The Great Blue Heron is a tall, long-legged, long-necked heron with a bluish-gray body, a pale head with a black stripe above the eye, and black streaking on the foreneck.
FemaleSimilar to male.
Seasonal change in appearanceNon-breeding birds lack ornate plumes, have yellower bill.
JuvenileSimilar to adults but with a black cap.
HabitatMarshes and shorelines.
DietFish, frogs, snakes, rodents, insects, and birds.
BehaviorForages by standing or walking and suddenly striking at prey with its heavy bill.
Breeds across much of North America and retreats from northern breeding areas in winter.
Bent Life History
Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Great Blue Heron.
The shape of a bird's wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species' identification.
Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History
Great Blue Herons often reuse the same nest for many years.
Chicks can take up to nearly 48 hours to complete the hatching process.
VocalizationsA hoarse squawk is occasionally given.
The nest is a platform of sticks placed in a tree or on the ground on an island.