Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Little Blue Gets a Little Lunch

When I saw the immature Little blue heron fishing the shallows near the road I hopped out of the van and quietly set the camera up. It was a fascinating show to watch, as the bird would alternately stand still or run like mad through the water.

(Note: since writing this post I have realized this is not an immature little blue but a non-breeding adult. Immature little blue heron's are white as snow.)

 I was pleasantly surprised when he stopped dead and mantled!

 Herons are known for this behavior though I have only seen it myself a few times and never managed to get a photo of it. There are a few explanations for it. One is that, in warm, shallow water, fish are attracted to shady places to cool down.

In the photo below a Black heron in Bostwana takes this to extremes--

Photo by Gerald Friesen

--our little blue only paused for a moment before rushing on.

 But then he stopped abruptly and did it again! It seemed to me, watching as he tucked his head under his wing, that this was less about providing shade for the fish and more about improving his vision--either reducing the glare on the water, shading his eyes, or both.

 And then he struck--splash!

 I'll be darned if he didn't come up with a fish!

 I cheered quietly--well done!

 The fish wriggled and squirmed while he got it turned around, moved it down his bill, and in a flash, gulped it down.


1 comment:

  1. Marie: Great shots and quite good you got the mantle shot. I have noticed mockingbirds in the field and yard that spread or mantle their wings to bring up insects or make them move or something. They will perform this maneuver several times to find their food in the grass. I've not read about the reason for this, but I find your analysis very interesting and I will look closer at our little mockingbirds.