Sunday, September 19, 2010

Food Flop - Great Blue Herons Feeding

"Ya know, Randy - you embarrass the whole birding community when you do that."
"Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!"
Recently, I posted about Great Blue Herons getting really touchy with each other while feeding. These are the same herons, one of them actually committing a feeding. I say 'committing,' because this looks like a crime of ungainliness, a felony of spasticity for sure. I had guessed that they were juveniles. Besides their feathering, this behavior is one of the things that made me think they were young. The one on the right, Randy was standing, then suddenly lurched forward falling on his face. Give the guy credit, at least he didn't just fall from the sky. I have never seen herons do this. They usually stand poised to strike and will remain in that fixed position for quite a while before striking the water with a deft, spearing move. There was nothing smooth about Randy's technique, he looked ridiculous! I guess everybody has to start somewhere when they are learning to do something new. Few beasts nor men are born as prodigies. Most of us have to do a thing over and over before we can dependably execute the move.
     I also have written recently, and more than a few times, about some of the not so patient nor benevolent folks in the birding world. To be honest and fair, though, I have too also say that there are some really great people in birding, too. I have had the pleasure and good fortune to meet numerous of them. And, I met them by way of the Internet. The Internet is an entity which also gets a bad rap, as if it has a soul and a face and is somehow evil. Like the birding 'community,' the Internet is what you make it, good, bad or otherwise. Had it not been for birding, the Internet and birders who use the Internet, I would not have met these very cool people, nor learned nearly as much as I have. All of these people know more about birding than I'll ever be lucky enough to forget. They are experts with a capital 'E.' They have, in fact, walked out on mudflats and mountain tops with me, to see what we could see and to teach me. They treated me with courtesy, positive regard and made me feel that I had something to bring to birding. They have been very giving and patient. In short, they've watched me thrash around like a juvenile heron learning to catch my first fish without laughing or giving up on me. Now, if only I had legs as long as a heron and would stop falling down on the birds while I work on my identifications, the world would be a just and better place.

Thank you, Mike and Paul, Mark and John, Jo and every one who has held my hand and helped me up.


  1. Unbelievable, really, in all my years of seeing GBHs I have never seen such a lack of dignity or raw beauty. There is no way I can top that even taking you up the river cannot be anything but anti climatic after that. How long will the herons stay?

  2. Thanks, SRB. The herons are usually out of here totally by mid November. I did take shots of one standing in the ice in December last year, quite out of the ordinary. It was in a place that has open fresh water most of the year. There was also one reported in the Weskeag Marsh in Tomaston all last winter.

  3. You are the reason birders are nice to you; not true with everyone.

  4. This is a very funny heron record. Better be careful--that heron my sue you for defamation of character. Did you ask his permission to publish this? Did he at least come up with a fish? And it is so wonderful the way the other heron stares at him!!!! Your work continues to be such a delight, so full of surprises. Love,Jo

  5. Gee, I neglected to get a model release from the heron, so it looks like I'll be needing a lawyer. The good news is that apparently I have a few character witnesses for my defense! Thanks all!

  6. very cute!! Great images, very unique...

  7. great blue herons are my very favorite bird. every sighting feels like a blessing. seeing three at once? i dont even know if i could live through that! a delightful post, robin. thank you.
    jane bourne ultimatum smithie

  8. "...a felony of spasticity.." priceless.
    September 19, 2010 09:26

  9. Robin,
    Lovely as always.
    What a crack up! The way the other Heron is looking at him as he flounders is priceless.
    I love juveniles!
    September 19, 2010 06:19 PM

  10. Herons are one of my favourite birds. We see them in this part of the world too in September. I have a story about one. Maybe you've inspired me to tell it ...
    Scarlett Sumac
    September 19, 2010 05:32

  11. Nice shots. I am trying to get Tom, my swift, to learn a few tricks. He's very bright, but a bit slow on flying since I have only my one room apartment and I have no fairy dust to show him how.
    Jan Sand
    September 19, 2010 03:33