It's a rough world for a young Great Blue Heron. A mere one egg in ten results in an adult heron. Only a little more than 25% of fledglings survive their first year. Michael Hobbs witnessed a battle between a young heron and a snake. Successful foraging takes practice. In a trial-and-error world, how often does an inexperienced bird get a second chance? Fortunately, nearly 75% of yearlings will survive to adulthood.
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The Heron and the Snake
As told by Michael Hobbs
This is BirdNote.
[Light September rain]
It is morning. A light rain is falling on Marymoor Park, east of Seattle. Today, bird-watcher Michael Hobbs, who has been monitoring the birds of Marymoor for many years, will witness something very unusual.
In the slough that runs through the park, a young Great Blue Heron and a blue-striped garter snake are locked in a desperate struggle. The heron’s trying to swallow the snake – tail first. The snake, understandably, isn’t happy – it’s biting the heron on the back of the neck. The heron pulls its head back – the snake is stretched taut like a kid's elastic toy. Predator and prey are at a stalemate.
Finally, the heron’s had enough. There’s got to be an easier way to eat, right? It spits out the snake. But the snake still has its teeth in the back of the bird’s neck. The heron jumps and flaps, trying to shake it loose. And eventually, the snake lets go – and drops into the water.
BOOM! The heron strikes – going for the head. The snake recoils. "I should’ve held on." It twists, writhes…and goes limp.
Head first, the heron swallows the snake.
BirdNote is produced by John Kessler. The writers include Bob Sundstrom, Dennis Paul-son, Frances Wood, and Ellen Blackstone. Our online director is Adam Sedgley. BirdNote’s executive producer is Dominic Black.
For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.
Adapted by Dominic Black from a piece by Chris Peterson, as told by Michael Hobbs
Call of the Great Blue Heron provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornitholo-gy, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by C.A. Sutherland
Ambient provided by C. Peterson
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org September 2016 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# 090905GBHE GBHE-04c