“Creativity is the Blue Heron within us waiting to fly; through her imagination, all things become possible.” ~Nadia Janice Brown
This September we had a rare visitor in our neighbor’s meadow just beyond our back fence; a Great Blue Heron. This tall, stealthy specimen was spotted by a us wandering the meadow grasses, bushes and cattails. Tall and spindly, I often wonder how it moves so easily. Slowly, almost a statue it waits patiently, but for what?
There are no ponds close to the meadow. Farther into the woods in a clearing there is a pond, and in our garden over the fence another pond where we have spied a heron or two in the 9 years we have lived here. But we have never seen a heron roaming a dry grassy area.
Of course I was intrigued and continued to watch this bird. Maybe he was taking a break from a long flight. A bit of respite before he was off again flying to his southern home. He continued to watch the boundaries of the meadow, its grass cut short. He approached the tall bushes and wild spots along the edge and stopped. Then moved on further down the perimeter, and finally stopped again. Suddenly he bent over low and -SNAP! He struck something like a lightning bolt; quick, precise.
As he carefully backed up and turned I saw he had a small mammal most likely a rabbit. I had never heard of herons hunting mammals. Fish and amphibians, of course, but mammals no. And if you have seen herons fishing, you know their beaks are sword-like, stabbing their prey. Unfortunately, with mammals, they also shake and throw down their prey and stab it until they are sure it is dead.
Now the fox hunting and killing the rabbit, that I wrote about in a prior post was upsetting, but I have to say watching the heron hunt made me queasy. He was brutal and merciless something I did not expect. And when he was sure his prey was dead, he carried it off and ate it thankfully out of sight.
I was sure he would be gone, but he came back out into the meadow and continued his hunt capturing a vole this time which he quickly gulped down that long throat. Eventually he moved out of sight still hunting, and after almost two hours he flew off to parts unknown.
But he returned for many days during a two week period continuing his hunting. Chasing squirrels and birds. Rambling about the backyards nearby. He has since moved on, but I have spied other herons still flying overhead, maybe our heron. Sometimes they will stay the winter, signaling a milder winter. Maybe this year we will see them around more. I can only hope.
Some Interesting Facts and Folklore About Great Blue Herons:
- They can hunt day and night, thanks to the photoreceptors in their eyes that improve their night vision.
- Even though they are a very large bird, they only weigh 5 to 6 pounds due to their hollow bones.
- They live and hunt in both freshwater and saltwater.
- And they will hunt in grasslands and fields stalking just about anything within striking distance.
- In China, the heron represents strength, purity, and long life; to Native Americans, it signifies wisdom.
- In both Africa and Greece, it’s believed to be a messenger from the gods.
- Indian folklore says that if a heron perches on your house, you will have good luck. I’d like to see that!
- Herons are considered the bird of the goddess and have been associated with the Greek goddess, Athena.
With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday. Please check them both out.
“If you were silent
Flight of herons on dark sky…
Oh! Autumn snowflakes!”
― Sokan, Japanese Haiku
Next up on the blog:
Monday, I will have another Tree Following post. And Wednesday I will bring a final review of the veg garden and thoughts for next year’s veg garden.
I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her new blog just for Nature Notes. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday.