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Encyclopedia > Great blue heron
Great Blue Heron

Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Ciconiiformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Ardea
Species: A. herodias
Binomial name
Ardea herodias
Linnaeus, 1758

The Great Blue Heron , Ardea herodias, is a wading bird in the heron family Ardeidae, common over most of North and Central America as well as the West Indies and the Galápagos Islands, except for the far north and deserts and high mountains where there is no water for it to feed in. It is an extremely rare vagrant to Europe, with records from Spain, the Azores and England. The conservation status of a species is an indicator of the likelihood of that species remaining extant either in the present day or the near future. ... Least Concern (LC) is an IUCN category assigned to extant species or lower taxa which have been evaluated but do not qualify for any other category. ... Scientific classification redirects here. ... For other uses, see Animal (disambiguation). ... Typical Classes See below Chordates (phylum Chordata) are a group of animals that includes the vertebrates, together with several closely related invertebrates. ... For other uses, see Bird (disambiguation). ... Families Ardeidae Cochlearidae (the Boat-billed Heron) Balaenicipitidae (the Shoebill) Scopidae (the Hammerkop) Ciconiidae Threskiornithidae Cathartidae Traditionally, the order Ciconiiformes has included a variety of large, long-legged wading birds with large bills: storks, herons, egrets, ibises, spoonbills, and several others. ... Genera See text The Ardeidae family of birds is the heron, egret and bittern family of wading birds. ... Species Many: see text Ardea is a genus of herons. ... Latin name redirects here. ... Carl Linnaeus, Latinized as Carolus Linnaeus, also known after his ennoblement as  , (May 13, 1707[1] – January 10, 1778), was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist[2] who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of nomenclature. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... For other uses, see Bird (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Heron (disambiguation). ... Genera See text The Ardeidae family of birds is the heron, egret and bittern family of wading birds. ... North American redirects here. ... For other uses, see Central America (disambiguation). ... The Caribbean or the West Indies is a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea. ... Galápagos redirects here. ...

It is the largest North American heron, with a head-to-tail length of 91–137 cm (36-54 in), a wingspan of 180 cm (71 in), and a weight of 2.2–3.6 kg (4.8-8 lbs). It is blue-gray overall, with black flight feathers, red-brown thighs, and a paired red-brown and black stripe up the flanks; the neck is rusty-gray, with black and white streaking down the front; the head is paler, with a nearly white face, and a pair of black plumes running from just above the eye to the back of the head. The feathers on the lower neck are long and plume-like; it also has plumes on the lower back at the start of the breeding season. The bill is dull yellowish, becoming orange briefly at the start of the breeding season, and the lower legs gray, also becoming orangey at the start of the breeding season. Immature birds are duller in color, with a dull blackish-gray crown, and the flank pattern only weakly defined; they have no plumes, and the bill is dull gray-yellow.[1][2][3] For other uses, see Heron (disambiguation). ... The distance AB is the wing span of this Aer Lingus Airbus A320. ... Red Kite (Milvus milvus) in flight, showing remiges and rectrices Flight feathers are the long, stiff, asymmetrically shaped, but symmetrically paired feathers on the wings or tail of a bird; those on the wings are called remiges (singular remex) while those on the tail are called rectrices (singular rectrix). ...

There are five subspecies:[1] This article is about the zoological term. ...

  • Ardea herodias herodias Linnaeus, 1758. Most of North America, except as below.
  • Ardea herodias fannini Chapman, 1901. The Pacific Northwest from southern Alaska south to Washington; coastal.
  • Ardea herodias wardi Ridgway, 1882. Kansas and Oklahoma to northern Florida.
  • Ardea herodias occidentalis Audubon, 1835. Southern Florida, Caribbean islands.
  • Ardea herodias cognata Bangs, 1903. Galápagos Islands.

The subspecies differ only slightly in size and plumage tone, with the exception of subspecies occidentalis, which as well as normal colored birds, also has a distinct a white morph, known as the Great White Heron. This was long thought to be a separate species, and is mainly found near salt water. Birds intermediate between the normal morph and the white morph are known as Wurdemann's Heron; in these only the head is white. The Pacific Northwest from space The Pacific Northwest, abbreviated PNW, or PacNW is a region in the northwest of North America. ... For other uses, see Alaska (disambiguation). ... For the capital city of the United States, see Washington, D.C.. For other uses, see Washington (disambiguation). ... This article is about the U.S. state. ... For other uses, see Oklahoma (disambiguation). ... This article is about the U.S. State of Florida. ... West Indies redirects here. ... In biology, polymorphism can be defined as the occurrence in the same habitat of two or more forms of a trait in such frequencies that the rarer cannot be maintained by recurrent mutation alone. ...

The call is a harsh croak; they are most vocal during the breeding season, but will call occasionally at any time of the year in territorial disputes or if disturbed.

Great Blue Heron call Image File history File links Great_Blue_Heron. ...

Four calls of the Great Blue Heron
Problems listening to the file? See media help.



The Great Blue Heron is found throughout most of North America, including Alaska, British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The range extends south through Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean to South America. Great Blue Herons can be found in a range of habitats, in fresh and saltwater marshes, mangrove swamps, flooded meadows, lake edges, or shorelines, but they always live near bodies of water. Generally, they nest in trees or bushes near a body of water. For other uses, see Alaska (disambiguation). ... Motto: Splendor sine occasu (Latin: Splendour without diminishment) Capital Victoria Largest city Vancouver Official languages English (de facto) Government Lieutenant-Governor Steven Point Premier Gordon Campbell (BC Liberal) Federal representation in Canadian Parliament House seats 36 Senate seats 6 Confederation July 20, 1871 (6th province) Area  Ranked 5th Total 944... This article is about the Canadian province. ... This article is about the Canadian province. ... Motto: Munit Haec et Altera Vincit (Latin: One defends and the other conquers) Capital Halifax Largest city Halifax Regional Municipality Official languages English (de facto) Government Lieutenant-Governor Mayann E. Francis Premier Rodney MacDonald (PC) Federal representation in Canadian Parliament House seats 11 Senate seats 10 Confederation July 1, 1867... This article is about the U.S. State of Florida. ... West Indies redirects here. ... South America South America is a continent crossed by the equator, with most of its area in the Southern Hemisphere. ... This article is about marsh, a type of wetland. ... Above and below water view at the edge of the mangal. ... Shore A shore or shoreline is the land at the edge of a large body of water, such as an ocean, sea, or lake. ...


A heron eating a small fish, their main prey.
A heron eating a small fish, their main prey.

The primary food for Great Blue Heron is small fish, though they are also known to eat shellfish, insects, rodents, amphibians, reptiles, and small birds.[4] It is generally a solitary feeder. Individuals usually forage while standing in water, but will also forage in fields or drop from the air, or a perch, into water. As large wading birds, Great Blue Herons are able to feed in deeper waters, and thus are able to exploit a niche not open to most other heron species. For other uses, see Fish (disambiguation). ... Cooked mussels Shellfish is a term used to describe shelled molluscs and crustaceans used as food. ... Orders Subclass Apterygota Archaeognatha (bristletails) Thysanura (silverfish) Subclass Pterygota Infraclass Paleoptera (Probably paraphyletic) Ephemeroptera (mayflies) Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) Infraclass Neoptera Superorder Exopterygota Grylloblattodea (ice-crawlers) Mantophasmatodea (gladiators) Plecoptera (stoneflies) Embioptera (webspinners) Zoraptera (angel insects) Dermaptera (earwigs) Orthoptera (grasshoppers, etc) Phasmatodea (stick insects) Blattodea (cockroaches) Isoptera (termites) Mantodea (mantids) Psocoptera... Suborders Sciuromorpha Castorimorpha Myomorpha Anomaluromorpha Hystricomorpha Rodentia is an order of mammals also known as rodents, characterised by two continuously-growing incisors in the upper and lower jaws which must be kept short by gnawing. ... ‹ The template below (Citations missing) is being considered for deletion. ... Reptilia redirects here. ... Look up Solitary in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

It feeds in shallow water or at the water's edge during both the night and the day, but especially around dawn and dusk. Herons locate their food by sight and generally swallow it whole. Herons have been known to choke on prey that is too large. It uses its long legs to wade through shallow water, and spears fish or frogs with its long, sharp bill.
For other uses, see Fish (disambiguation). ... Distribution of frogs (in black) Suborders Archaeobatrachia Mesobatrachia Neobatrachia - List of Anuran families The frogness babe is an amphibian in the order Anura (meaning tail-less from Greek an-, without + oura, tail), formerly referred to as Salientia (Latin saltare, to jump). ...


Great Blue Herons at the nest
Great Blue Herons at the nest

This species usually breeds in monospecific colonies, in trees close to lakes or other wetlands; often with other species of herons. In zoology, monospecific is an adjective describing a genus which contains only one known species. ... This is a biological article: For a territory administered by another territory see: Colony For a group attempting to affiliate with a Fraternity or Sorority see: Colony (fraternity) In biology, a colony (from Latin colonia) refers to several individual organisms of the same species living closely together, usually for mutual...

These groups are called heronry (more accurately than "rookery"). The size of these colonies may be large, ranging between 5–500 nests per colony, with an average of approximately 160 nests per colony. A Heronry is a breeding ground for herons, also called as a heron rookery. ... A sea lion rookery at Monterey, California Birds A rookery is a nesting colony of birds. ...

Great Blue Herons build a bulky stick nest, and the female lays three to six pale blue eggs. One brood is raised each year. If the nest is abandoned or destroyed, the female may lay a replacement clutch. Reproduction is negatively affected by human disturbance, particularly during the beginning of nesting. Repeated human intrusion into nesting areas often results in nest failure, with abandonment of eggs or chicks. Deep cup nest of the Great Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) A bird nest is the spot in which a bird lays and incubates its eggs and raises its young. ... In most birds and reptiles, an egg (Latin ovum) is the zygote, resulting from fertilization of the ovum. ... In biology, offspring are the product of reproduction, a new organism produced by one or more parents. ... A clutch of blackbird (Turdus merula) eggs. ... For other uses, see Reproduction (disambiguation) Reproduction is the biological process by which new individual organisms are produced. ...

Both parents feed the young at the nest by regurgitating food. Parent birds have been shown to consume up to four times as much food when they are feeding young chicks than when laying or incubating eggs. Regurgitation is the controlled flow of stomach contents back into the oesophagus and mouth. ...

Eggs are incubated for approximately 28 days[5] and hatch asynchronously over a period of several days. The first chick to hatch usually becomes more experienced in food handling and aggressive interactions with siblings, and so often grows more quickly than the other chicks. The word incubate in the context of birds refers to the development of the chick (embryo) within the egg and the constant temperature required for the development of it over a specific period. ...


Birds east of the Rocky Mountains in the northern part of their range are migratory and winter in Central America or northern South America. From the southern United States southwards, and on the Pacific coast, they are year-round residents.[1] However their hardiness is such that individuals often remain through cold northern winters, as well. For individual mountains named Rocky Mountain, see Rocky Mountain (disambiguation). ... Flock of Barnacle Geese during autumn migration Bird migration refers to the regular seasonal journeys undertaken by many species of birds. ... For other uses, see Central America (disambiguation). ... South America South America is a continent crossed by the equator, with most of its area in the Southern Hemisphere. ... Historic Southern United States. ... The Pacific Coast is any coast fronting the Pacific Ocean. ...

It has been recorded as a vagrant in Greenland, Hawaii, and the Azores.[1] This article is about the U.S. State. ... Motto (Portuguese for Rather die free than in peace subjugated) Anthem  (national)  (local) Capital Ponta Delgada1 Angra do Heroísmo2 Horta3 Largest city Ponta Delgada Official languages Portuguese Government Autonomous region  -  President Carlos César Establishment  -  Settled 1439   -  Autonomy 1976  Area  -  Total 2,333 km² (n/a) 911 sq mi...

Similar species

The Great Blue Heron is replaced in the Old World by the very similar Grey Heron, which differs in being somewhat smaller (90–98 cm), with a pale gray neck and legs, lacking the browner colors that Great Blue Heron has there. It forms a superspecies with this and also with the Cocoi Heron from South America, which differs in having more extensive black on the head, and a white breast and neck. For other uses, see Old World (disambiguation). ... Binomial name Ardea cinerea Linnaeus, 1758 The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae. ... In biology, a cryptic species complex is a group of species that satisfy the scientific definition of species — that is, they are reproductively isolated from each other — but which are not morphologically distinguishable. ... Binomial name Linnaeus, 1766 The Cocoi Heron (Ardea cocoi) is a species of heron in the Ardeidae family. ... South America South America is a continent crossed by the equator, with most of its area in the Southern Hemisphere. ...

The "Great White Heron" could be confused with Great Egret but is larger, with yellow legs as opposed to the Great Egret's black legs. The Reddish Egret and Little Blue Heron could be mistaken for the Great Blue Heron, but are smaller, and lack white on the head and yellow in the bill. Binomial name Synonyms Casmerodius albus Egretta alba The Great Egret Ardea alba, also known as the Great White Egret, White Heron, or Common Egret, is a wading egret, found in most of the tropical and Breeding plumage in flight at Hodal in Faridabad District of Haryana, India. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... Binomial name (Linnaeus, 1758) The Little Blue Heron, Egretta caerulea, is a small heron. ...



  1. ^ a b c d del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., & Sargatal, J., eds. (1992). Handbook of the Birds of the World Vol. 1. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona ISBN 84-87334-10-5.
  2. ^ Sibley, D. (2000). The Sibley Guide to Birds. National Audubon Society ISBN 0-679-45122-6
  3. ^ Dickinson, M. B. et al., eds. (1999). Field Guide to the Birds of North America. National Geographic ISBN 0-7922-7451-2.
  4. ^ Hinterland Who's Who - Great Blue Heron. Canadian Wildlife Service. Retrieved on 2007-11-23.
  5. ^ http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i1940id.html
  • BirdLife International (2004). Ardea herodias. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  • Stiles and Skutch, A guide to the birds of Costa Rica ISBN 0-8014-9600-4

Year 2007 (MMVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar in the 21st century. ... is the 327th day of the year (328th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (also known as the IUCN Red List and Red Data List), created in 1963, is the worlds most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species and can be found here. ... The World Conservation Union or International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is an international organization dedicated to natural resource conservation. ...

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Ardea herodias

  Results from FactBites:
IFWIS - Great Blue Heron (3248 words)
Great blue herons require large tracts of floodplain forest in which to nest and the availability of undisturbed, unpolluted wetlands in which to forage *03,18,19*.
It is suggested that the great blue heron (and other species) has a particular association with the natural floodplain sequence in which lagoons are filled by spring floods on major streams, dry back as summer progresses, and concentrate fish populations as the flood requirements of nestlings reach their peak *03*.
Great blues perfer to nest in extensive tract of bottomland forest and measurements for 28 of the largest extant (or recently) colinies in Illinois is approx.
Great Blue Heron (681 words)
Great blue herons are between 38 and 54 inches in length (Hancock and Kushlan 1984).
One subspecies of the great blue heron is the great white heron (A.h.
Great blue herons nest together in colonies, otherwise known as a heronry, and are sensitive to the effects of human disturbances.
  More results at FactBites »



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