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The Great Blue Heron Essay

1461 words - 6 pages

The Great Blue Heron 2
The Great Blue Heron
Overview of the paper:
            The Great Blue Heron, also known by its scientific name Ardea herodias, pronounced (ARE-dee-ah her-ODE-ih-as) is one of the largest herons in the world and one of North Americas most wide spread bird.  It is an amazing sight to see a GBH* soar over head because of their massive size, and their interesting flight style.  In this paper I will be giving the reader an overview of the GBH, specifically:
1.       Identification of the Great Blue Heron
2.      The Habitat of the Great Blue Heron
3.      Behavior of the Great Blue Heron
4.      The Life Cycle of the Great Blue Heron
5.      Conservation Status
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The Habitat of the Great Blue Heron:
            GBH like to live in large colonies called heronries, this gives them the best security from predators.  The theory behind nesting in groups, is when an outer nest’s detects danger they'll sound off a warning by “barking” to tell the other members of the group there is a threat.  A heronry can range from 5 - 10 pairs of breeding couples to 1,500 to 2,000 pairs of breeding couples.  GBH are monogamous and both males and females will work together to raise the fledglings. Both will take turns incubating the eggs and will regurgitate food for the young.  Heronries are usually on islands or in marshes and swamps to avoid land predators.  GBH nests are usually high up in a tree
The Great Blue Heron 4
somewhere near water, but have been known to build nests on rock ledges on cliffs or in shrubs when trees are not available. They will nest near both fresh water and salt water.  The range of the GBH is greatest during the breeding season when it is warm in the northern hemisphere. They can be found throughout Canada, Mexico and the United States sans Hawaii.  
Behavior of the Great Blue Heron:
GBH are often seen flying high overhead with slow wing-beats.  For the most part, GBH are active during the early morning hours and late in the evening when the fishing is the best, but can be seen hunting at night as well.  They are solitary hunters that prefer to be alone when hunting.  When they are hunting they stand quietly on riverbanks, lake shores, or in wet meadows, waiting for prey to come by to strike with their bills. They will also stalk their prey stealthily hunting and pursuing it in shallow water. Males typically choose shoreline areas for foraging, and females and juveniles forage in more upland areas. 
The GBH diet consists primarily of fish although they have been known to eat other animals such as frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, birds, small mammals, shrimps, crabs, crayfish, dragonflies, grasshoppers, and other insects that are found near the water. Herons locate their food by sight and usually swallow it whole. GBH have been known to choke on prey that is too large (Ferguson, 1998).  A GBH can travel up to 18 miles from a heronry in order to find food but most will stay within one to three miles of its home.
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Even though the GBH are known to have at least seven different calls, they are a very quiet species compared to others. When calling the GBH has a loud clear voice which can be easily heard when it is close to its nesting colony. When approaching the nest, a heron will often give a 'roh-roh-roh' sound, likely to let its mate know it's coming. A 'frawnk' sound is used to sound an alarm to the nesting colony which lasts about 20 seconds. A 'gooo' call is often heard at the end of a courtship ritual.  They coo a soft 'kraak' when they are disturbed in flight and an 'ar' when they are greeting other members of their species. The heron’s long bill is also...

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