Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.


You are here

Great Blue Heron, Alone Again

Summer in a colony, winter in solitude...

Great Blue Herons nest in colonies, in adjoining trees or with several nests in one tree. But by autumn, the adults and gangly young have left the nests to take up solitary lives, a pattern that is the reverse of many other species. After all the "togetherness" of the nesting colonies, the Great Blue Herons spend the off-season by themselves.

Do you have a photo of a Great Blue Heron? Share it on BirdNote's Facebook page.

Full Transcript



Great Blue Heron, Alone Again

Adapted from a script written by Frances Wood

This is BirdNote!
[Waves splashing on shore and kronk, kronk, kronk of Great Blue Heron]
That prehistoric-sounding call is from a Great Blue Heron. This tall, stately bird is commonly seen standing alone on beaches, in marshes, on docks and pilings, even on tree branches. Watching.  Waiting.
[Heron colony vocalizations]
Now, from earlier this summer, the raucous sound of a colony of nesting Great Blue Herons.
[Heron colony vocalizations]
Herons collect into groups for nesting, constructing their spartan stick nests in adjoining trees. Several nests may be crammed into one tree.  As many as 60 nests in a colony can create quite a frenzy!  Nesting in large colonies helps protect the young from predators.
But by this time of year, the adults and gangly young have left the nests to take up solitary lives along beaches, marshes, lake-edges, and rivers. After all the “togetherness” of the nesting colonies, the herons spend the off-season by themselves, a pattern that is the reverse of many other species.
During fall and winter, they defend the areas where they feed as adamantly as other birds defend their nesting territories in spring. The herons challenge and scare away intruders, including other Great Blue Herons, by sounding this call.
[Single Great Blue Heron calling]
It may sound strange, but it’s one beautiful bird. Got a photo? Share it with our listeners. Begin at our website, I’m Michael Stein.
Call of the single Great Blue Heron provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by C.A. Sutherland
Heron colony recorded by Kessler Productions
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to     August 2016     Narrator: Michael Stein
ID#083105GBHEKPU                      GBHE-03b


Sights & Sounds


By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Related topics: