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Great Blue Heron

Ardea herodias

Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias, photo © by Michael Plagens

Photo taken at Gilbert Water Ranch, Maricopa Co., Arizona. June 2010.

Flooded agricultural fields, riparian water ways, lakes and ponds throughout the Sonoran Desert are often visited by Great Blue Herons. Large stature, long serpentine necks and crest feathers give this bird, especially in-flight, a prehistoric look. The plumage is largely slatey gray-blue except for the head with is white with a wide, black stripes on the cap. In maiting season there are several long splayed plumes on the head, chest and back that can be held erect during courtship. Just about any water or wetland dwelling animal that is small enough to swallow (and occasionally too large) will be taken as prey. Like all herons, great blue's use stealth with great striking speed to spear their prey below the water surface. Nesting is in trees. The bird at left is using a platform constructed for that purpose at the Gilbert Water Ranch where these birds are abundant.

Year Round Resident

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2010