Great Blue Heron Foraging Question


bdudek34
 

Twice in the past week, I have seen a Great Blue Heron foraging in an open field as I drove by. The first time was an abandoned horse pasture and the second was the grassy area off the west end of the E/W runway of the Albany airport.  Neither location had any sort of vernal pool or wetland.  This struck me a so odd that each time I circled back to make sure that I wasn't seeing a Sandhill Crane.  Given the proximity of the two locations, it is possible that it was the same bird.

Are these herons known to forage for insects/rodents, etc in dry fields?  Having never seen this, and not finding any thing written on it in a cursory search, I can't be sure if I've seen something unusual or whether my expectations of only seeing them in wetlands are incorrect.

Can anyone point me to a literature on Great Blue foraging behavior where this may have been studied?

Thanks,
Bruce


Will Raup
 

Absolutely!  

Pretty much if a Great Blue Heron can swallow it, it's fair game for food.

Snakes and rodents (even other birds) are commonly hunted by Great Blue Herons.

Perhaps there was some sort of insect hatch or a lot of rodent activity that attracted the Heron.  You more often see this kind of behavior in winter, when water freezes up.

Will Raup
Glenmont, NY



Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone



-------- Original message --------
From: bdudek34 <bdudek2@...>
Date: 9/28/21 11:13 AM (GMT-05:00)
To: hmbirds@groups.io
Subject: [hmbirds] Great Blue Heron Foraging Question

Twice in the past week, I have seen a Great Blue Heron foraging in an open field as I drove by. The first time was an abandoned horse pasture and the second was the grassy area off the west end of the E/W runway of the Albany airport.  Neither location had any sort of vernal pool or wetland.  This struck me a so odd that each time I circled back to make sure that I wasn't seeing a Sandhill Crane.  Given the proximity of the two locations, it is possible that it was the same bird.

Are these herons known to forage for insects/rodents, etc in dry fields?  Having never seen this, and not finding any thing written on it in a cursory search, I can't be sure if I've seen something unusual or whether my expectations of only seeing them in wetlands are incorrect.

Can anyone point me to a literature on Great Blue foraging behavior where this may have been studied?

Thanks,
Bruce


Tom Lake
 

Here is a good example of a GBH that will try anything. Tom Lake


-----Original Message-----
From: Will Raup <Hoaryredpoll@...>
To: bdudek34 <bdudek2@...>; hmbirds@groups.io <hmbirds@groups.io>
Sent: Tue, Sep 28, 2021 11:18 am
Subject: Re: [hmbirds] Great Blue Heron Foraging Question

Absolutely!  

Pretty much if a Great Blue Heron can swallow it, it's fair game for food.

Snakes and rodents (even other birds) are commonly hunted by Great Blue Herons.

Perhaps there was some sort of insect hatch or a lot of rodent activity that attracted the Heron.  You more often see this kind of behavior in winter, when water freezes up.

Will Raup
Glenmont, NY



Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone



-------- Original message --------
From: bdudek34 <bdudek2@...>
Date: 9/28/21 11:13 AM (GMT-05:00)
To: hmbirds@groups.io
Subject: [hmbirds] Great Blue Heron Foraging Question

Twice in the past week, I have seen a Great Blue Heron foraging in an open field as I drove by. The first time was an abandoned horse pasture and the second was the grassy area off the west end of the E/W runway of the Albany airport.  Neither location had any sort of vernal pool or wetland.  This struck me a so odd that each time I circled back to make sure that I wasn't seeing a Sandhill Crane.  Given the proximity of the two locations, it is possible that it was the same bird.

Are these herons known to forage for insects/rodents, etc in dry fields?  Having never seen this, and not finding any thing written on it in a cursory search, I can't be sure if I've seen something unusual or whether my expectations of only seeing them in wetlands are incorrect.

Can anyone point me to a literature on Great Blue foraging behavior where this may have been studied?

Thanks,
Bruce


scottjstoner
 

Bruce (et al.) ,  while I don't have specific observations to add on Great Blue Heron, Denise and I have seen Green Heron foraging for insects in a dry field at Five Rivers EEC. Years ago, I also observed egrets eating exhausted songbirds from a spring migration fallout inside Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas! -Scott Stoner



Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone


-------- Original message --------
From: bdudek34 <bdudek2@...>
Date: 9/28/21 11:13 (GMT-05:00)
To: hmbirds@groups.io
Subject: [hmbirds] Great Blue Heron Foraging Question

Twice in the past week, I have seen a Great Blue Heron foraging in an open field as I drove by. The first time was an abandoned horse pasture and the second was the grassy area off the west end of the E/W runway of the Albany airport.  Neither location had any sort of vernal pool or wetland.  This struck me a so odd that each time I circled back to make sure that I wasn't seeing a Sandhill Crane.  Given the proximity of the two locations, it is possible that it was the same bird.

Are these herons known to forage for insects/rodents, etc in dry fields?  Having never seen this, and not finding any thing written on it in a cursory search, I can't be sure if I've seen something unusual or whether my expectations of only seeing them in wetlands are incorrect.

Can anyone point me to a literature on Great Blue foraging behavior where this may have been studied?

Thanks,
Bruce


bdudek34
 


kernscot
 

I have seen G-b Herons catching and swallowing field voles and mice.

Nancy


From: hmbirds@groups.io <hmbirds@groups.io> on behalf of scottjstoner via groups.io <ScottJStoner@...>
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2021 3:04 PM
To: bdudek34 <bdudek2@...>; hmbirds@groups.io <hmbirds@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [hmbirds] Great Blue Heron Foraging Question
 
Bruce (et al.) ,  while I don't have specific observations to add on Great Blue Heron, Denise and I have seen Green Heron foraging for insects in a dry field at Five Rivers EEC. Years ago, I also observed egrets eating exhausted songbirds from a spring migration fallout inside Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas! -Scott Stoner



Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone


-------- Original message --------
From: bdudek34 <bdudek2@...>
Date: 9/28/21 11:13 (GMT-05:00)
To: hmbirds@groups.io
Subject: [hmbirds] Great Blue Heron Foraging Question

Twice in the past week, I have seen a Great Blue Heron foraging in an open field as I drove by. The first time was an abandoned horse pasture and the second was the grassy area off the west end of the E/W runway of the Albany airport.  Neither location had any sort of vernal pool or wetland.  This struck me a so odd that each time I circled back to make sure that I wasn't seeing a Sandhill Crane.  Given the proximity of the two locations, it is possible that it was the same bird.

Are these herons known to forage for insects/rodents, etc in dry fields?  Having never seen this, and not finding any thing written on it in a cursory search, I can't be sure if I've seen something unusual or whether my expectations of only seeing them in wetlands are incorrect.

Can anyone point me to a literature on Great Blue foraging behavior where this may have been studied?

Thanks,
Bruce


Richard Guthrie
 

Yes they regularly feed on meadow mammals, especially in winter.

Ken Kaufmann mentions their menu preferences in his Lives of North American Birds. And, check the Bent series. It has everything imaginable about bird behavior, said in many words. Although a lot of it was from anecdotal observations in the style of the time. 

And then there's that photo of a GBHE carrying a Black Rail in its beak - and it was one the endangered Black Rail population of the west coast. 

Rich Guthrie


On Tue, Sep 28, 2021 at 4:21 PM kernscot <kernscot@...> wrote:
I have seen G-b Herons catching and swallowing field voles and mice.

Nancy


From: hmbirds@groups.io <hmbirds@groups.io> on behalf of scottjstoner via groups.io <ScottJStoner=aol.com@groups.io>
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2021 3:04 PM
To: bdudek34 <bdudek2@...>; hmbirds@groups.io <hmbirds@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [hmbirds] Great Blue Heron Foraging Question
 
Bruce (et al.) ,  while I don't have specific observations to add on Great Blue Heron, Denise and I have seen Green Heron foraging for insects in a dry field at Five Rivers EEC. Years ago, I also observed egrets eating exhausted songbirds from a spring migration fallout inside Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas! -Scott Stoner



Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone


-------- Original message --------
From: bdudek34 <bdudek2@...>
Date: 9/28/21 11:13 (GMT-05:00)
Subject: [hmbirds] Great Blue Heron Foraging Question

Twice in the past week, I have seen a Great Blue Heron foraging in an open field as I drove by. The first time was an abandoned horse pasture and the second was the grassy area off the west end of the E/W runway of the Albany airport.  Neither location had any sort of vernal pool or wetland.  This struck me a so odd that each time I circled back to make sure that I wasn't seeing a Sandhill Crane.  Given the proximity of the two locations, it is possible that it was the same bird.

Are these herons known to forage for insects/rodents, etc in dry fields?  Having never seen this, and not finding any thing written on it in a cursory search, I can't be sure if I've seen something unusual or whether my expectations of only seeing them in wetlands are incorrect.

Can anyone point me to a literature on Great Blue foraging behavior where this may have been studied?

Thanks,
Bruce



--
Richard Guthrie


rob snell
 

I watched a GBH attempt to swallow a large rat for about 45 minutes. The rat was so big the heron had to lower its head and let it’s neck rest intermittently while half the rat was sticking out of its mouth. Not sure if it ever choked it down, but it sure tried. 

Rob Snell


On Sep 28, 2021, at 4:21 PM, kernscot <kernscot@...> wrote:


I have seen G-b Herons catching and swallowing field voles and mice.

Nancy


From: hmbirds@groups.io <hmbirds@groups.io> on behalf of scottjstoner via groups.io <ScottJStoner@...>
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2021 3:04 PM
To: bdudek34 <bdudek2@...>; hmbirds@groups.io <hmbirds@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [hmbirds] Great Blue Heron Foraging Question
 
Bruce (et al.) ,  while I don't have specific observations to add on Great Blue Heron, Denise and I have seen Green Heron foraging for insects in a dry field at Five Rivers EEC. Years ago, I also observed egrets eating exhausted songbirds from a spring migration fallout inside Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas! -Scott Stoner



Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone


-------- Original message --------
From: bdudek34 <bdudek2@...>
Date: 9/28/21 11:13 (GMT-05:00)
To: hmbirds@groups.io
Subject: [hmbirds] Great Blue Heron Foraging Question

Twice in the past week, I have seen a Great Blue Heron foraging in an open field as I drove by. The first time was an abandoned horse pasture and the second was the grassy area off the west end of the E/W runway of the Albany airport.  Neither location had any sort of vernal pool or wetland.  This struck me a so odd that each time I circled back to make sure that I wasn't seeing a Sandhill Crane.  Given the proximity of the two locations, it is possible that it was the same bird.

Are these herons known to forage for insects/rodents, etc in dry fields?  Having never seen this, and not finding any thing written on it in a cursory search, I can't be sure if I've seen something unusual or whether my expectations of only seeing them in wetlands are incorrect.

Can anyone point me to a literature on Great Blue foraging behavior where this may have been studied?

Thanks,
Bruce