Big Bird and the $50 Fish Dinner

There’s a Great Blue Heron in our neighborhood. If you own a garden pond and that sentence didn’t strike fear into your heart, then you haven’t had the full garden pond experience. Mind you, I don’t want you to have the full experience. I just want you to be aware that there’s more out there. And it’s big.

And hungry.

According to Wikipedia, the Great Blue Heron

…is the largest North American heron and among herons it is surpassed only by the Goliath Heron and the White-bellied Heron. It has head-to-tail length of 97–137 cm (38–54 in), a wingspan of 167-201 cm (66-79 in) a height of 115–138 cm (45–54 in) and a weight of 2.1–2.5 kg (4.6–5.5 lbs). [4] Notable features include slaty flight feathers, red-brown thighs, and a paired red-brown and black stripe up the flanks; the neck is rusty-gray, with black and white streaking down the front; the head is paler, with a nearly white face, and a pair of black plumes running from just above the eye to the back of the head. The feathers on the lower neck are long and plume-like; it also has plumes on the lower back at the start of the breeding season. The bill is dull yellowish, becoming orange briefly at the start of the breeding season, and the lower legs gray, also becoming orangey at the start of the breeding season. Immature birds are duller in color, with a dull blackish-gray crown, and the flank pattern only weakly defined; they have no plumes, and the bill is dull gray-yellow.

The picture you see here is of a young heron.

The one that flew out of our backyard last week was full grown.  And not so hungry any more.  😦

Said heron has consumed our mid-sized koi, beautiful blue-veiled calico shubunkin, fatally wounded a large comet AND carried off a large apple snail.  The other comets refuse to leave the artificial reef that James constructed for them.  Mr. Larry up at Pensacola Seed and Garden loaned us his motion detector sprinkler.  For now, the heron’s appetite appears to be sated.

So, why is the heron only just now discovering our pond, after 4 years of its existence?  Not sure but the reason that herons scoop fish up out of garden ponds is quite simple.

  1. the fish are really easy to catch
  2. the fish in the Gulf have gone out to deeper waters during the colder months, making them more difficult to catch
  3. not as many fishermen on the beach right now, so they’re not getting as many handouts.

For such a gorgeous and unique bird, it really makes a nuisance of itself!

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