Monday, October 4, 2021

Great Blue Heron

I post so many images of this species that I many have to change the name of my blog to Dan Tallman’s Great Blue Heron blog. These impressive birds allow birders close approach at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. On 1 October 2021, Erika and I observed this rather ragged-looking individaul. Like many other herons, Great Blues have a comb structure on their middle toe nails. When scratching its head, these birds erect their crest feathers, lower and twist their heads so that they can use their toe combs. They stand on one foot and usually lift one leg over a closed wing—but notice that this bird is clearly scratching with its leg under the wing. When the birds are done preening, they shake its head, body and tail (Vennesland and Butler 2020).

Most of the Great Blue Heron photos are of adults with their impressive streaming scapular manes. This bird is immature. A refuge sign indicates that in the refuge these herons breed in February. Note the lack of scapular plumes and the brown spots at the wing covert tips. I suspect this bird is in the middle of a yawn. I don’t think the bird had just swallowed a fish.

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