Heron Gets a Surprise

Like watching paint dry.

That’s an apt cliché for watching Great Blue Herons. If you’re the patient sort, you might be entertained watching them fish.

Tip-toe… tip-toe… (stand motionless for a full minute) … tip-toe… (don’t budge for another two minutes) … tip-toe… snatch!

Hardly the stuff of an action movie, so I don’t often show herons on my blog.

I don’t recall why I was filming one of these tall birds a few weeks ago. It was early-evening feeding time, and the creature was engaged in the usual slow-mo fishing expedition. Bored, perhaps, I turned on the camera.

I couldn’t have predicted the arrival that would catch both of us by surprise.

Here’s what happened:

The heron was fishing at the edge of a tiny island, where we spot deer quite often. The island is full of oaks, so there’s no shortage of acorns, aka deer candy, to draw them there. I don’t know if deer live there year-round, but in all seasons, I see them travel to the island. In winter, they walk the ice. Otherwise, they swim.

Deer and herons seem to get along. I’ve often observed deer browsing in the company of loafing Great Blue Herons and Sandhill Cranes (which also do a lot of standing around).

‘Loafing’ is a technical term: That’s what ornithologists call a bird’s non-active, non-productive time, which seems particularly apt for these birds.

Was it the element of surprise that startled the heron? Or just that these laid-back creatures prefer only the company of other loafers?

8 thoughts on “Heron Gets a Surprise”

  1. Good catch, Carol! Bet both were a little startled. We watch Blue Herons fishing along the edge of the lake in front of our house. Your description is apt but the results are rewarding more often than not. Fish are frightened by shadows, loud noises (even talking) so the Herons are smart fishers I think. Love the video.

    1. If those deer were surprised by the heron, they sure were not frightened–considering their size advantage. I do agree that the herons are smart fishers. Funny, too!

  2. Absolutely stunning colours on the heron! They’re so entertaining to watch. I also think both were a little startled!

    1. Elaine, they are indeed entertaining to watch. Sometimes, they appear to play with sticks and branches, well outside nesting season, so they’re not building. I guess they’re stealthy and funny!

  3. Deer have keen hearing but very poor eyesight, except for detecting movement. So I’m guess that the deer might not have even seen that great blue heron sitting relatively still in the water. I think that the deer was just as surprised as the heron to have nearly run over it in her quick move (perhaps to hide from something that frightened her?) Who knows?

    I am so astonished at the sights that you can see from your window. What a show!

    1. Kay, I’m astonished too! And I’m just plain lucky to live where so many wildife goings-on take place. I did not know that about the deer–so thanks for that info snippet!

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