Pacific Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias fannini)
The great blue heron is a statuesque bird, standing over 1 metre tall with its neck outstretched. The Pacific subspecies (ssp. fannini) of great blue heron lives along the west coast from Alaska to Washington. About 2,000 of the total worldwide population (4,000 to 5,000) of breeding pairs of this subspecies breed in southwestern BC. Great blue herons usually nest in colonies of dozens to hundreds of pairs, in large trees within a few kilometres of their primary foraging habitats. These include protected coastal areas such as estuaries
(especially those containing eelgrass beds
), salt and freshwater marshes
, shallow beaches, kelp beds
Their main prey is small fish, and occasionally shellfish, insects, rodents, amphibians (mostly frogs), reptiles, and small birds. Great blue herons have elaborate and raucous mating, feeding and social rituals. The males and females both incubate the eggs and feed the young. Great blue herons are threatened by a loss of suitable nesting sites, reduction in prey populations and human disturbance that can cause them to temporarily or permanently abandon their nests and young.
In the Victoria area there are heron rookeries (nesting colonies), in Beacon Hill Park and more recently one has become established in Cuthbert Holmes Park. Great Blue Heron feeding in the eelgrass near the Gorge Bridge (photo courtesy of Julian Anderson)
Additional Links & Information © Top image courtesy of Dean Forbes