GREAT BLUE HERON COUPLES, CONTENTED WITH STEREOTYPICAL DOMESTIC ROLES
Dr. James J. S. Johnson
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered. (1st Peter 3:7)
GREAT BLUE HERONS, nest-building together (photo credit: American Expedition)
Great Blue Heron – what a big, beautiful bird! These are the largest-sized and heaviest of North America’s herons – standing about 4 feet tall and weighing over 5 pounds (about 2½ kilograms). Because both sexes look alike, generally speaking, it is difficult to discern which is a male (versus a female). However, when a pair is seen, expect the male have a slighter larger bill than his female. (That’s a nice way of saying that males have noticeably bigger mouths than their females.)
GREAT BLUE HERON couple, on nest (photo credit: The Carolina Bird Club)
Previous blogposts have mentioned this wading bird’s bold usage of alligator “taxis” [see Lee Dusing’s “Gatorland’s Taxi Service”, posted at https://leesbird.com/tag/great-blue-heron/ ], as well as its opportunistic dietary preferences (e.g., fish, frogs, rodents, small birds, bugs, etc.), so those facts are not repeated here [See “Great Blue Heron: Patient, Prompt, and (Rarely) Pugnacious”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2014/06/30/great-blue-heron-patient-prompt-and-rarely-pugnacious/ ].
However, it is worth mentioning that the Great Blue Heron is unafraid of stereotypical male/female courtship and domestic roles — something that some “modern” folks get nervous about:
GREAT BLUE HERONS. From exchanging twigs to flying in circles, great blue herons participate in a wide range of behaviors during courtship. To construct the big, bulky nest, the male does most of the gathering of materials, picking up sticks from the ground … [or from other places in its “territory”]. The female does most of the work of putting the nest material in place [i.e., she takes care of the home’s interior decorating]. Pairs often reuse old nests [and have been doing this long before “recycling” became a fad], but if they build a new one, it can take three days to two weeks [although it probably takes longer if they are government contractors].
[Quoting, with editorial inserts, from Kaitlin Stainbrook, “Love at First Flight”, BIRDS & BLOOMS, February-March 2018 issue, page 34.]
GREAT BLUE HERON nest (photo credit: Naturally Curious with Mary Holland)
Where do they build nests? Inside trees and bushes, yes, but also in tall marshy weeds, or even on the ground. Great Blue Herons are known to collect tree twigs from nearby trees, including some branch fragments that are too long to be useful as part of a nest, so many sticks are likely to fall to the ground before a pair of great blues get their nest built “just right”. Other nest-building materials include a “lining” of pine needles, moss, grasses, cattail reeds, and/or leaf material.
In other words, these herons are as eclectic in nest-building as they are in sourcing their food.
GREAT BLUE HERONS, nest-building
(photo credit: Great Blue Heron RV Rentals & Sales Inc.)
A quick limerick follows.
GREAT BLUE HERON NEST-BUILDERS KNOW THE DIFFERENCE
What’s right oft gets lost, in the throng
As fads drop what’s right, for what’s wrong;
As home tasks come and go
Their right roles herons know;
May that difference forev’r live long !
So Great Blue Herons know the difference between male and female roles.
What a Biblical concept! As the French would say: vive la difference!
What a beautiful post of an elegant bird in breeding plumage and a devoted close relationship. Love the affection photo. I enjoyed this post immensely Lee.
Thanks, Lee. these really are big, beautiful birds.
LikeLiked by 1 person