Sunday, November 14, 2010

Little Blue Heron

(Egretta caerulea)

I accompanied my daughter to work on Wednesday, confident I could amuse myself while she toiled at her job.  Much to my delight, there is a trail behind the college that circles a small pond. 

As I quietly made my way along the well-worn path, watching and waiting, listening for anything and everything, I spotted this little head.

Freezing on the spot, I waited patiently as it slowly emerged from the vegetation.  Ah, yes, a Little Blue Heron!  My heart started to race as I stepped as quietly as I could to get a better view.  Don't see specimens like this in the far north  Atlantic Maritimes, and rarely in the marshes of Maine!  I felt pretty lucky because I know Little Blues are secretive, blend in well, and that I'm on the very western fringe of their range.

Standing approximately 2 feet tall, with a 40 inch wingspan, one might say that a Little Blue Heron isn't quite so little.  But compared to the Great Blue (Ardea herodias), it's name is significant.  The Great Blue Heron measures 36-55" from head to toe, and boasts a wingspan of up to 79"!

There is no distinction between the plumage of the male and female Little Blue Heron, but an immature is all white for approximately the first year.  Mother Nature, being as smart as she is, saw to it the immature herons remained white to enable them to feed alongside the Snowy Egrets, who tolerate them while they are white much more than when they turn blue.

Preferring freshwater swamps, lagoons, coastal thickets and marshy islands, it's a pity the Little Blue's choice of diet is small crustaceans (crayfish) because there were hundreds upon hundreds of damsel and dragonflies on and around this pond.

I don't know if you can see the dragonfly just above and to the right!
Some were as big as small birds!
 More on the lotta' odonata in the next post.  Hope you are having a nice weekend!

Check out more Nature Notes posts.
Thanks for hosting this meme, Michelle!


KimQuiltz said...

Yay! I love sneaking up on things at the pond. Thanks for taking me for a walk. Silly me, I even crouched a bit while reading so I could sneak with you. :P

Klaus said...

Very cool find for you!
And thanks for stopping by at my place, too! :)

Cheers, Klaus

Lily Hydrangea said...

what a beautiful bird! I learned a few new very interesting things today thanks to you.
: )

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Oh, I wish I were there with you! What a great post. You know so much. Thanks for sharing the find of the secretive blue heron with us.

Denise said...

Such an exciting find. I never knew there was such a thing as a Little Blue Heron. You took some lovely photos of it. I enjoyed enlarging them.

John said...

Hi Karen,

What a cracking experience for you, Little Blue Heron, my heart would be pounding so much that it would scare the bird off...I can watch Herons and Egrets all day. We had a Snowy Egret turn up in Scotland some years ago, sadly I missed it.


Carrie P. said...

How exciting. I have seen the Great Blue and they are such neat birds.
I can see the dragonfly. Thanks for sharing your exciting find.

Leovi said...

Very nice

walk2write said...

What a wonderful surprise for you! Thanks for the info about the young ones. I didn't realize that their immature color helped them survive. Did your daughter know about the pond and its secrets before you investigated?

Johnny Nutcase said...

Great find! I love these birds, too. Great photos, i really like the 4th one. Great stuff :)

Audrey said...

What lovely photo's!! So peaceful. Could use a little peace right now :)

Rambling Woods said...

Oh what a treat...I've never seen a little blue and didn't know about the little blues and egrets... Interesting info...Michelle

Linda said...

What a fascinating story Karen about a magnificent bird! I have never seen one, as it must of been thrilling to photograph one. I love your photos, especially the fourth with a bit of reflection from grass and water and rusty color of swamp which is so nice in this one! Thank you for the education of these birds, as I loved reading, learning, and feeling adventurous. Great post and capture,Linda

NatureFootstep said...

I´ve never seen the Blue Heron. It seems liek a beauty. Thanks for sharing. :)