COASTAL CRITTER:GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)
DESCRIPTION:The Great Blue Heron is one of the largest herons in North America. The adult bird's height can be up to 4 feet. It has a wing-span of 7 feet across. The color of the adult Great Blue Heron's body varies from shades of blue to blue-gray. It has a white stripe on its head that may extend down its neck. Its large, sharp beak is dark gray to yellow on the upper portion and is totally yellow on the bottom portion. It flies with a slow steady flap of its wings, its long legs extending straight back beyond its tail. When flying, its long neck (2 feet or more) curves back between its wings, causing the bird to appear to have no neck at all.
HABITAT/ECOLOGY:The Great Blue Heron lives in all wetland
areas, around ponds, lakes, marshes, bays and (bodies of water made up of a mixture of fresh water from rivers and salt water from the ocean and having much vegetation growing along the banks). Its (all the areas of the world where a specific animal lives) covers most of North America from southern Canada and Alaska to southern Mexico. Because it is a here, it can be seen in Gulf Islands National Seashore year round. The Great Blue Heron builds a huge, untidy nest made out of large sticks. The nest may be located in tall trees or on tall, flat man-made objects such as the channel markers along ship channels in the bays and sounds. .
However, the Great Blue Heron is a solitary hunter, that feeds on large insects, lizards, mice, frogs and fish. It uses its
long legs to stand motionless in shallow water until a potential meal swims by. With slow and deliberate motion, the Great Blue Heron extends its long neck and spears the unsuspecting critter with its sharp beak. If another Great Blue Heron encroaches on its fishing spot, the bird squawks loudly "kraak"
to announce its territory. A Great Blue Heron easily adapts to the fishing habits of humans. You can often observe