"Great Blue Heron."
Today I saw a Great Blue Heron flying with a fish in its beak.They’ve come back to Minnesota from their wintering grounds in states like Iowa, California, & places as low as Texas & some as high as Montana, & the west coast of Canada. But they don’t stay in Minnesota during the winter.
Great Blue Herons hunt by standing as still as a stone near the edge of a body of water. They’re amazingly patient; they’ll stand forever, waiting for a meal.But when a fish or a frog does swim by, mistaking them for a bush, or a log, the heron strikes with its long neck & swallows the fish with its large bill. It’s really hard even to see it, it’s so fast. Great Blue Herons usually swallow their food without chewing, right away, so the one I saw was probably taking its fish back to its nest, which is called a heronry.
The Great Blue Heron is large, a couple of feet tall, with gray-blue feathers, a white face, & black on its shoulders, belly, & crown. It has very broad wings, which beat slowly as it flies. When it flies, it folds its neck, so it looks very short, and its legs stick out behind it.
The Great Blues Herons are mating & nesting now. Mature herons only have long feathers & a yellow bill during mating season, to help them attract mates. They often build their heronries miles away from water & places to hunt. Both the male & female incubate the eggs. There are usually about 3-7 of them, & they are light greenish-blue. The size of the eggs increases the farther north you go. Both parents take care of the young until they leave the nest, about 5-30 days after they begin flying at 56-60 days.