Great Blue Heron, Chocowinity Bay

Great Blue Heron

A Great Blue Heron regularly roosts overnight in a neighborhood tree on Chocowinity Bay. Sometimes it squawks indignantly and flees when I paddle too close. Sometimes it tolerates my approach.

The frayed feathers on the heron’s chest are called “powder down.” The birds can crush these feathers into a powder with a fringed claw on its middle toe and apply it to the feathers on its underbelly. The powder keeps those feathers from becoming fouled and oily wading in the swamps. The swamp slime clumps on the feathers and the heron brushes it off with its feet. They also powder oily fish before eating.

The disapproving gaze and crouched shoulders of a Great Blue Heron remind me of Groucho Marx.

Herons stalk shoal water for hours, waiting for a fish, a frog, shrimp, crabs, aquatic insects, rodents, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds, especially ducklings.  Apparently, hunger breeds patience but not a good temper.

Great Blue Heron, Chocowinity Bay
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