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Photograph - Original Photography By Deborah Benoit
The primary food for Great Blue Heron is small fish, though it is also known to opportunistically feed on a wide range of shrimp, crabs, aquatic insects, rodents and other small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and small birds. Herons locate their food by sight and usually swallow it whole. Herons have been known to choke on prey that is too large. It is generally a solitary feeder. Individuals usually forage while standing in water, but will also feed in fields or drop from the air, or a perch, into water. mice are occasionally predated in upland areas far from the species typical aquatic environment. Occasionally loose feeding flocks may form and may be beneficial since they are able to locate school of fish more easily. As large wading birds, Great Blue Herons are capable of feeding in deeper waters, and thus are able to harvest from niche areas not open to most other heron species.
Typically, the Great Blue Heron feeds in shallow waters, usually less than 50 cm (20 in) deep, or at the water's edge during both the night and the day, but especially around dawn and dusk. The most commonly employed hunting technique of the species is that it wades slowly with its long legs through shallow water, and quickly spears fish or frogs with its long, sharp bill. Although usually ponderous in movements, the Great Blue Heron is surprisingly adaptable in its fishing methods. Feeding behaviors variably have consisted of standing in one place, probing, pecking, walking at slow speeds, moving quickly, flying short distances and alighting, hovering over water and picking up prey, diving headfirst into the water, alighting on water feet-first, jumping from perches feet-first, and swimming or floating on the surface of the water.
February 5th, 2013
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