My desk faces the window overlooking the back yard. Late one rainy afternoon this past week, I caught motion out of the corner of my eye and looked up just in time to see this big guy land on the roof of our garden shed. He glided in for a smooth landing and then turned around to look at me through the window. Wheels quickly joined me and Bytes grabbed the camera, managing to catch several photos of our visitor across the yard. In the fading and rainy light, photos do not do justice to the subject in spite of the cameraman’s skill.
It was a Great Blue Heron and it was magnificent! You can tell it was tall, probably about 4 feet. The height and the white cap are what distinguish great blue herons from their cousins, the Little Blue Herons. They look more gray than blue when standing around, stabbing fish or resting on one leg. We’ve seen one around for the last few years, but never this close and quiet long enough for photos. If this is the same one, its main home is a drainage pond 4 or 5 blocks away shared with ducks and many geese. The rather large pond has been stocked with fish and walkers on the path circling it often see the bird feeding in early morning or evening. “Blue” (or his relatives) keeps a wary eye, leaving when the area is deemed too busy for comfort, but likes it well enough to spend winters there. The neighbors behind us have a much smaller pond, maybe 4×8 feet, that they keep stocked with koi and other decorative fish. Blue has visited numerous times and probably planned some fine dining before we played papparazi and changed his mind.
After a few moments, during which he never took his eyes off us, Blue turned in a slow dance on the peak of the roof. He bent his knees, leveled his beak parallel with the roof and shoved off. His wing span was enormous, close to six feet, and revealed his namesake color. He glided between trees in the adjoining yard and climbed sharply to clear a roof before disappearing. Was it our neighbor Blue or a migrant just passing through? No matter. It was a joy to behold!
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