Great blue herons roost in a tree. Herons typically weigh only 5 to 6 pounds, thanks to their hollow bones.
They generally live for around 15 years but have been known to live as long as 24 years. They have specialized feathers on their chests which constantly fray as they grow. The herons comb this ‘powder down’ with a claw on their middle toes, using it to wipe fish slime from their feathers as they preen.
They can fish day and night due to a high number of rod-type photoreceptors in their eyes that improve their night vision.
Chicks can survive on their own in as little as two months. Mostly monogamous during a season, they choose new mates each year.
Heron populations are mostly stable across the U.S. except in local populations such as in Florida where elevated mercury levels in the water is thought responsible for their decline. The all-white heron found in Florida and the Caribbean is the same species.
Photo by Patricia McCairen