Great Blue Heron – “I’m In A Tree!”

Great Blue Herons nest in trees, often in large groups called “rookeries”. That said, I was still surprised to spot a heronish blob across the prairie at Deer Run Forest Preserve. I quickly confirmed the bird was indeed a GBH but I was intrigued by his preening position, a few hundred feet from the nearby river.

I snapped a couple shots from afar and then tried to approach via what I thought was an inconspicuous trail.

Great Blue Heron - I'm In a Tree!

I’m In A Tree!
Great Blue Heron - I'm In a Tree!

I approached quietly and slowly but the mosquitoes chomping on my arm were nearly too much and I hastened my pace. The heron obviously wasn’t perching there for my amusement and as soon as I had a clear view of his bare-branched resting spot, he spooked.

I, like many birders, have seen herons hundreds (thousands? millions?) of times but this one let out the loudest heron croak imaginable and I could just feel his disdain for my presence. Nonetheless, a wonderful view of an oft overlooked “common” bird.

Great Blue Heron, spooked
Great Blue Heron I Spooked

We know herons like to nest in trees but why should one perch there, near a prairie, above a trail when the river is nearby? He was clearly preening but we’d like any thoughts on the benefits of this perch-of-choice. Gotta love bird behavior!!

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