A Great Blue Heron Eating a Big Fish – Plus What I Saw and Learned this Past Week – 3/22/15

Not in any particular order, some things I saw or learned this past week. Sources listed as noted.

1. Many of you witnessed this. Or have seen it in video.  Or maybe on another blog. But until you see it, you don’t realize how big of fish a Great Blue Heron can swallow.

I pulled up to a local retaining pond, got out of the car, and heard a noise on the bank below.  A Great Blue had a fish in its mouth.  The fish looked rather large from my angle.  I had grabbed my camera and was fighting to turn it on and focus.  The Great Blue flew directly across the pond and stood in the shallow water with the fish.  I figured it couldn’t fly very far without losing the large fish.  It then proceeded to swallow it whole. Amazing.

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Needless to say, or maybe not considering what it just ate, it didn’t fly away the remaining time I was there.

2. An article in the ABA’s Birding Magazine March 2014 issue entitled A Review of World Birding Strategies by Jason Leifester got me thinking. All of the following numbers are probably off by a few but will serve to get the idea across.

There are 238 bird families in the world of which 88 (37%) are listed in the birds of North America.  I figure if you bird the entire US outside of Alaska you could probably see 77 of the 88 families (87%) without too much trouble. In other words no chasing. There are 2225 bird genera in the world which 319 (14%)  are listed on the ABA list. There are 10000 bird species in the world.  There are 650 (6.5%) birds listed as a 1 or 2 on the ABA list.

At the end of my birding days I would like to say I saw 2500 (25%) of the bird species. Not going to happen. Cost prohibitive.

So maybe I see 1200 genera (50%).  Maybe. But still probably cost prohibitive.

Or lets say I could tell my grand-kids I saw 180 families (75%).  Could happen.

Something to think about when planning trips…

3.  The Black-Crested Titmouse was a separate species until 1982 when it was grouped as a subspecies of the Tufted Titmouse.  Twenty years later in 2002 it was split off again as a separate species. ( Pete Dunne on Bird Watching, page 279) I can’t wait until 2022 to see what happens.

4. I don’t remember in years past seeing Horned Grebes in breeding plumage in the spring.  Then again I didn’t see very many in the area we lived in Illinois.

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Horned Grebe – Greenwood Retaining Pond – 03/22/15
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Different bird – Horned Grebe – Greenwood Retaining Pond – 03/22/15

5. Grebes sleep with their bills facing forward, nestled in the side of their neck. (The Sibley Guide to Birds, page 26)

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Horned Grebe – Greenwood Retaining Pond – 03/22/15

And a few more pictures from the week.

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Eastern Meadowlark – Johnson County Park – 03/21/15
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I guess I didn’t realize that the tail of the Eastern Towhees was this long. Atterbury FWA – 03/21/15
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Blue Jay – Atterbury FWA – 03/21/15
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Peaceful – Atterbury FWA – 03/21/15

 

 

4 Replies to “A Great Blue Heron Eating a Big Fish – Plus What I Saw and Learned this Past Week – 3/22/15”

  1. Nice post with some great information!!! I like the percentages you included with #2. I just completed a trip with a birder who surpassed 2,100 on his life list – I hope to be there someday.

    1. If you get a chance read the article, it is well done. I have been thinking about either Costa Rica/Panama later this year or Colorado. Costa Rica/Panama will add more species/genera but either one will add about the same about of families – 7 or 8. Go figure.

      1. Thanks for the recommendation Bob – that was a nice read!!! Got me thinking even more about traveling over the next few years. I’ll be going through that entire issue now – looks like lots of good articles.

        I’d jump at the Costa Rica/Panama trip – I had such a great experience in Costa Rica that I can’t wait to get back!!

  2. Great captures here! I initially noticed your “heron swallowing large fish” shots. So the bird really managed to get that whole thing down okay? Was the unlucky fish swallowed down wriggling the whole way as well?!

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