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The Big and Beautiful Great Blue Heron

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

Great blue herons are big birds, much larger than the birds we often see in the trees in our yards and parks. They look a little awkward with their long legs and big bodies, but in flight they are smooth and graceful.

Photo courtesy of Steven Svalina

These birds are named for their color, but it’s not the same bright blue you see on a blue jay. Instead, they are more of a bluish-gray, with some dark blue or nearly black crown feathers on their heads.

Here are some more facts about these beautiful birds.

Fun Facts

  • A great blue heron could be even taller than you! They stand between 3 feet and 4½ feet tall.

  • Great blue herons are big birds, but they only weigh between 5 pounds and 6 pounds. They are light because their bones are hollow. In fact, all birds have hollow bones.

  • These herons nest in large colonies. Sometimes 500 nests or more are located in one area. They usually build their nests in trees or bushes, but sometimes on the ground.

  • Great blue herons are one of more than 60 herons in the world. They are in the same family as egrets and bitterns.

  • Their nests can be very big. Some are as much as 4 feet wide and 3½ feet deep. That’s as deep as the shallow end of a swimming pool.

  • These birds love water. They are often seen standing or wading in the shallow waters of mashes, ponds, lakes, streams and rivers.

  • Great blue herons eat a lot of different kinds of small animals. Because they are often in or near water, they eat a lot of fish, frogs and turtles. They also eat rodents, small birds, snakes and insects.

  • The necks and bills of great blue herons help them hunt. Their bills are long and sharp, so they can pierce fish. They are also able to stretch out their necks to catch prey that’s farther away.


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