Great Blue Heron
Great blue herons are large birds (6 to 8 pounds) with long legs. These magnificent birds stand up to 4 feet tall, have a 7-foot wingspan and can fly 20-30 miles per hour. They have graceful long necks, white heads and blue-gray bodies.
Great blue herons live around both fresh and salt water. They nest close to each other in colonies called rookeries and can be found along the edges of streams, ponds, lakes, rivers and bays. They breed in the eastern portion of the state but are found statewide during the rest of the year. Although some winter in Maryland, most migrate to states further south.
Each year around Valentine’s Day, however, one of the Atlantic Coast's largest colonies of great blue herons assembles near the little Southern Maryland town of Nanjemoy to mate, nest, rear their young, and gorge on the riches of the Chesapeake’s marshes.
Wading in shallow water, great blue herons hunt for fish, frogs, crayfish and snakes. Their long pointed bills also help them catch insects, mice and other small animals.
Eight other herons live in Maryland: these are the little blue heron, tri-colored heron, green heron, black crowned night heron, the yellow crowned night heron and three white herons – the cattle egret, snowy egret, and great egret.
Close-up photo of a Great
Photo of Great Blue Heron
nesting in a rookery,
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