Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bird of the Day: Great Blue Heron at San Luis Wildlife Refuge

How can a bird look graceful and ungainly at the same time?  Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) are beautiful birds, and I'm always delighted to see them when we are out and about. A few weeks back we traveled down to the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge near Los Banos in the Great Valley to see if there were any early migratory arrivals. We had a delightful time, but ironically we didn't see the Heron in the bird refuge. This one was hanging out in a plowed field just outside the refuge boundary.
They tend to be a little skittish when I'm around, but this one didn't seem too bothered by the head and camera hanging out of the car window. It waited patiently for us to take our pictures and continued watching for whatever was tasty in the field.

The herons are found all over North America, especially around wetlands. I've even seen them in my small backyard, but for an unwelcome reason. I looked out one day and saw one in our little fishpond. Before I realized what was going on, most of my goldfish had been consumed. There is a reason I fill the pond with 25 cent feeder goldfish instead of expensive Koi! Thankfully the fishapocalypse has only happened twice over the years.
One of their most amazing abilities is the flexibility of their necks. They can pretty much "coil" them up and strike like a snake, catching fish, frogs, gophers, and practically anything else in range.
We are looking forward to visiting the refuge again during the winter and spring seasons. It's a time when our "boring" valley is at its finest.

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