Herons are large stately birds.

intarsiaIntarsia of a Great Blue Heron by local artist, Gail Burton.

I don't remember herons around Kootenay Lake when I was a child; the first one I saw here was on the beach at Troup in the late 1970s, and so unusual was it that people set out in boats to see what this huge bird was. Although hardly an every-day sighting, it is not the least bit unusual to see one now.

Although Herons are usually migratory, they can be seen around Kootenay Lake all year round. During that time, they tend to be solitary except at mating time. They will stand for long periods in the shallows or on a piling, just watching for a good catch. Although the adult heron is tall (about 1.2 m) and has a large wingspan (about 1.8 m), it actually weighs much less than a turkey.

The contrast between the heron’s sinuous lines and its shaggy feathers makes for interesting pictures, and the bird’s languid approach to fishing makes for relaxed photography. The consequences fill this page.

why called blue heronWhen the wings of the Great Blue Heron are spread in flight, it is clear why the word, blue, is in its name.

Three heronsWhen foraging, the heron is usually a solitary bird. I rarely see more than one at a time.

heron, adultAn adult Heron has a shaggy neck, a white crown and face, and black plume extending from behind each eye. This heron is leaning forward as it puts a foot down in preparation to flying away.

heron, flyingThe Heron normally flys with its neck folded in an S and its head tucked back close to its body. But, it doesn’t tuck in its legs.

heronThis Heron has just leaped into the air off of a piling.

heron, liftoffA Heron is lifting itself into the air from the rock jetty at Troup.

heron, juvenileA juvenile heron—less than one year old—has a black cap. It also lacks the shaggy neck and black plumes.

heronThis juvenile Heron is watching for fish.

sleep I sympathize with this lad who became irretrievably sleepy while watching for fish. He sat on his watching post, but soon his lids closed. Try as he would to keep his eyes open (first picture), he finally failed; they stayed closed and down went his head (second picture). And that was that: no fish today.

heron kokaneeThis heron is in the shallows near the mouth of Kokanee Creek.

heron having a scratchWhen you have to scratch; you have to scratch.

herons in treeTwo of a half-dozen herons roosting in the trees on Harlequin Island along the West Arm.

herons flyingIn flight, the Heron has slow steady beats. The wings on the left heron are on the downstroke; while those in the right heron are on the upstroke.

heron at Crescent BayThe stately wanderings of the Great Blue Heron is in marked contrast to the frenetic activity of a Killdeer or a Spotted Sandpiper. Also, the heron’s long legs and neck enables it to obtain food in places inaccessible to those smaller wading birds.

heron lifting out of waterThis heron used its wings to lift itself out of the lake and onto the dock. Note the reflection.

heronDespite appearances, this heron poses a threat only to small fish.

heron adultA heron often spends a long time standing on one leg while fishing.

heronThe extreme flexibility of the heron’s neck is seen in this and the picture to the left.

heron at Crescent BayBefore I took this picture, my favourite heron shot was the one above where the adult on the piling has one foot raised.

Information from Wikipedia: Great Blue Heron.

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