“Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”
Matthew 6:26 [quoting the Lord Jesus Christ]
Beholds the fowls of the air, especially when they land and walk nearby.
The Lord Jesus Christ told us to “behold” the birds of the air. Of course, that is easier to do if some of those flying fowl land on the ground long enough for us to observe them at close range.
Yesterday I walked to my mailbox, to check for something I am anticipating – and nearby I saw a young Great Blue Heron, stalking in the drainage ditch that still retains pooled run-off rainwater from recent showers. The heron eyed me carefully, apparently concluding that I was not an immediate threat—since I was careful to walk slowly and meekly toward my mailbox. When I left the area the heron was still there, wading in the standing water of the drainage ditch. Probably the heron was foraging, looking for a frog or some other meal.
With that memory in mind I have a limerick:
GREAT BLUE HERON IN THE DRAINAGE DITCH
Should I check out a drainage ditch?
For wetland birds it’s a niche;
If rain runoff flows through therein
It might attract great blue heron —
So, go check out a drainage ditch!
Happy birding—even if your birdwatching happens next to your own mailbox!
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) by Lee Circle B
A Fishing Party
The Great Blue Heron and the Kingfisher.
The Burgess Bird Book For Children
Listen to the story read.
A Fishing Party.
Peter Rabbit sat on the edge of the Old Briar-patch trying to make up
his mind whether to stay at home, which was the wise and proper thing
to do, or to go call on some of the friends he had not yet visited. A
sharp, harsh rattle caused him to look up to see a bird about a third
larger than Welcome Robin, and with a head out of all proportion to
the size of his body. He was flying straight towards the Smiling Pool,
rattling harshly as he flew. The mere sound of his voice settled the
matter for Peter. “It’s Rattles the Kingfisher,” he cried. “I think I’ll
run over to the Smiling Pool and pay him my respects.”
Belted Kingfisher on 11/25/20 by Lee
So Peter started for the Smiling Pool as fast as his long legs could
take him, lipperty-lipperty-lip. He had lost sight of Rattles the
Kingfisher, and when he reached the back of the Smiling Pool he was in
doubt which way to turn. It was very early in the morning and there was
not so much as a ripple on the surface of the Smiling Pool. As Peter sat
there trying to make up his mind which way to go, he saw coming from the
direction of the Big River a great, broad-winged bird, flying slowly. He
seemed to have no neck at all, but carried straight out behind him were
two long legs.
Great Blue Heron; Walton County, Georgia birding photogaphy blog by williamwisephoto.com
“Longlegs the Great Blue Heron! I wonder if he is coming here,”
exclaimed Peter. “I do hope so.”
Peter stayed right where he was and waited. Nearer and nearer came
Longlegs. When he was right opposite Peter he suddenly dropped his long
legs, folded his great wings, and alighted right on the edge of the
Smiling Pool across from where Peter was sitting. If he seemed to have
no neck at all when he was flying, now he seemed to be all neck as he
stretched it to its full length. The fact is, his neck was so long that
when he was flying he carried it folded back on his shoulders. Never
before had Peter had such an opportunity to see Longlegs.
He stood quite four feet high. The top of his head and throat were
white. From the base of his great bill and over his eye was a black
stripe which ended in two long, slender, black feathers hanging from
the back of his head. His bill was longer than his head, stout and
sharp like a spear and yellow in color. His long neck was a light
brownish-gray. His back and wings were of a bluish color. The bend of
each wing and the feathered parts of his legs were a rusty-red. The
remainder of his legs and his feet were black. Hanging down over his
breast were beautiful long pearly-gray feathers quite unlike any Peter
had seen on any of his other feathered friends. In spite of the
length of his legs and the length of his neck he was both graceful and
Great Blue Heron Lake Morton by Dan
“I wonder what has brought him over to the Smiling Pool,” thought Peter.
He didn’t have to wait long to find out. After standing perfectly still
with his neck stretched to its full height until he was sure that no
danger was near, Longlegs waded into the water a few steps, folded his
neck back on his shoulders until his long bill seemed to rest on his
breast, and then remained as motionless as if there were no life in him.
Peter also sat perfectly still. By and by he began to wonder if Longlegs
had gone to sleep. His own patience was reaching an end and he was just
about to go on in search of Rattles the Kingfisher when like a flash the
dagger-like bill of Longlegs shot out and down into the water. When he
withdrew it Peter saw that Longlegs had caught a little fish which he at
once proceeded to swallow head-first. Peter almost laughed right out as
he watched the funny efforts of Longlegs to gulp that fish down his long
throat. Then Longlegs resumed his old position as motionless as before.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) from Jim JS Johnson
It was no trouble now for Peter to sit still, for he was too interested
in watching this lone fisherman to think of leaving. It wasn’t long
before Longlegs made another catch and this time it was a fat Pollywog.
Peter thought of how he had watched Plunger the Osprey fishing in the
Big River and the difference in the ways of the two fishermen.
“Plunger hunts for his fish while Longlegs waits for his fish to come to him,” thought Peter. “I wonder if Longlegs never goes hunting.”
As if in answer to Peter’s thought Longlegs seemed to conclude that
no more fish were coming his way. He stretched himself up to his full
height, looked sharply this way and that way to make sure that all was
safe, then began to walk along the edge of the Smiling Pool. He put each
foot down slowly and carefully so as to make no noise. He had gone but
a few steps when that great bill darted down like a flash, and Peter
saw that he had caught a careless young Frog. A few steps farther on he
caught another Pollywog. Then coming to a spot that suited him, he once
more waded in and began to watch for fish.
Great Blue Heron at Lake Morton watching for fish, by Lee
Peter was suddenly reminded of Rattles the Kingfisher, whom he had quite
forgotten. From the Big Hickory-tree on the bank, Rattles flew out over
the Smiling Pool, hovered for an instant, then plunged down head-first.
There was a splash, and a second later Rattles was in the air again,
shaking the water from him in a silver spray. In his long, stout, black
bill was a little fish. He flew back to a branch of the Big Hickory-tree
that hung out over the water and thumped the fish against the branch
until it was dead. Then he turned it about so he could swallow it
head-first. It was a big fish for the size of the fisherman and he had a
dreadful time getting it down. But at last it was down, and Rattles set
himself to watch for another. The sun shone full on him, and Peter gave
a little gasp of surprise.
“I never knew before how handsome Rattles is,” thought Peter. He was
about the size of Yellow Wing the Flicker, but his head made him look
bigger than he really was. You see, the feathers on top of his head
stood up in a crest, as if they had been brushed the wrong way. His
head, back, wings and tail were a bluish-gray. His throat was white and
he wore a white collar. In front of each eye was a little white spot.
Across his breast was a belt of bluish-gray, and underneath he was
white. There were tiny spots of white on his wings, and his tail was
spotted with white. His bill was black and, like that of Longlegs, was
long, and stout, and sharp. It looked almost too big for his size.
Belted Kingfisher; Walton County Georgia
Presently Rattles flew out and plunged into the Smiling Pool again, this
time, very near to where Longlegs was patiently waiting. He caught a
fish, for it is not often that Rattles misses. It was smaller than the
first one Peter had seen him catch, and this time as soon as he got back
to the Big Hickory-tree, he swallowed it without thumping it against the
branch. As for Longlegs, he looked thoroughly put out. For a moment or
two he stood glaring angrily up at Rattles. You see, when Rattles had
plunged so close to Longlegs he had frightened all the fish. Finally
Longlegs seemed to make up his mind that there was room for but one
fisherman at a time at the Smiling Pool. Spreading his great wings,
folding his long neck back on his shoulders, and dragging his long legs
out behind him, he flew heavily away in the direction of the Big River.
Rattles remained long enough to catch another little fish, and then
with a harsh rattle flew off down the Laughing Brook. “I would know him
anywhere by that rattle,” thought Peter. “There isn’t any one who can
make a noise anything like it. I wonder where he has gone to now. He
must have a nest, but I haven’t the least idea what kind of a nest he
builds. Hello! There’s Grandfather Frog over on his green lily pad.
Perhaps he can tell me.”
So Peter hopped along until he was near enough to talk to Grandfather
Frog. “What kind of a nest does Rattles the Kingfisher build?” repeated
Grandfather Frog. “Chug-arum, Peter Rabbit! I thought everybody knew
that Rattles doesn’t build a nest. At least I wouldn’t call it a nest.
He lives in a hole in the ground.”
“What!” cried Peter, and looked as if he couldn’t believe his own ears.
No Breath, but cute -Frog Playing Violin at Swamp Magnolia Plantation by Lee
Grandfather Frog grinned and his goggly eyes twinkled. “Yes,” said he,
“Rattles lives in a hole in the ground.”
“But–but–but what kind of a hole?” stammered Peter.
“Just plain hole,” retorted Grandfather Frog, grinning more broadly than
ever. Then seeing how perplexed and puzzled Peter looked, he went on to
explain. “He usually picks out a high gravelly bank close to the water
and digs a hole straight in just a little way from the top. He makes
it just big enough for himself and Mrs. Rattles to go in and out of
comfortably, and he digs it straight in for several feet. I’m told that
at the end of it he makes a sort of bedroom, because he usually has a
“Do you mean to say that he digs it himself?” asked Peter.
Grandfather Frog nodded. “If he doesn’t, Mrs. Kingfisher does,” he
replied. “Those big bills of theirs are picks as well as fish spears.
They loosen the sand with those and scoop it out with their feet. I’ve
never seen the inside of their home myself, but I’m told that their
bedroom is lined with fish bones. Perhaps you may call that a nest, but
“I’m going straight down the Laughing Brook to look for that hole,”
declared Peter, and left in such a hurry that he forgot to be polite
enough to say thank you to Grandfather Frog.
What kind of birds is Longlegs?
How does Longlegs fish?
How does Longlegs swallow his fish?
What kind of bird is Rattles?
Do Longlegs and Rattles fish the same way?
How does Rattles fish?
Both Longlegs and Rattles fish differently. The Lord created them differently, but they both like fish.
Do we make fun of someone, or tease them if they do something a little differently than we do?
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV)
We walked Gatorland in the opposite direction that we normally take. This Blue Heron had just landed and was walking on the rail.
Great Blue Heron Gatorland Cropped
Even though we see Great Blue Heron often, it is always great to watch that stately pose they present. As we have mentioned before, the Heron is mentioned in Leviticus and Deuteronomy as birds to not eat. Birds of the Bible – Herons
“the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.” (Lev. 11:19 NKJV)
“the stork, the heronafter its kind, and the hoopoe and the bat.” (Deut. 14:18 NKJV)
Later on, we encountered another “GBH” [Great Blue Heron] near the other end of the boardwalk. I saw Dan watching something, and then as he started taking photos, I realized it was the Heron.
Dan Watching Great Blue Heron (On rail near the tree)
Dan Taking Photo of Great Blue Heron
Not to be out done, I took out my camera and zoomed in on the Heron.
Great Blue Heron Gatorland
Great Blue Heron Gatorland
Great Blue Heron Gatorland 03-23-21
Great Blue Heron Gatorland 03-23-21
What was the highlight of this encounter was when this bird was chased by another GBH, and caught the heron with its wings fully extended.
Two Great Blue Herons Flying
Two Great Blue Herons Flying – Cropped
Great Blue Heron Flying at Gatorland – Cropped More
What beauty and majesty that the Lord used when He created the flying Avian Wonders for us to enjoy, and realize His awesome power. In church Sunday we sang the hymn, “I Sing The Mighty Power Of God.” This verse expresses some of what I feel when we are out bird watching.
I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food, Who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good. Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where’er I turn my eye, If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.
Stay tuned for more of this latest trip to Gatorland.
Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.
“Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another. He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit, And he who cares for his master will be honored. As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man.” (Proverbs 27:17-19 NASB)
“When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction.” (Proverbs 24:32 NASB)
As you know, we have not been birding, or really going anywhere much lately. So, breakfast birding is becoming our birding adventures. Lately, when we go in and out of our housing addition, we have noticed quite frequently, a Great Blue Heron sitting on some houses. Of course, I have never had a camera ready or even in the car.
BUT, when we looked out, from the breakfast table, the other morning, this is what I saw. I grabbed the camera and took these photos:
Great Blue Heron on Housetop from breakfast table by Lee
I zoomed in closer, and sure enough, there the Great Blue Heron was on my neighbors house. Back in the “old days” we used to have hood ornaments on car hoods.
Hood Ornament on a Packard (Library of Congress PD)
This Heron is making a great “House Ornament.”
Great Blue Heron on Housetop by Lee
Great Blue Heron of Housetop by Lee
“For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” (Luke 12:2-3 KJV)
Well, it’s back to relaxing until the next Breakfast bird/birds show up to entertain us. In the mean time, I have been working on my Geneology.
Our gator adventure has been keeping me from using my bench, but we still have lots of birds to watch. Just from a safer distance. In Backyard Birdwatching – Maybe, I explained why I haven’t used my bench too much yet. The talk of the neighborhood, “our own gator,” brings visitors to the water. As I mentioned before, we don’t get to see it most of the time because of the embankment.
When he [or she] moves more to the middle of the water, then we get to see it. When we came home from church, Sunday (5-17), there he was. We both grabbed our cameras, which we now keep at the table by the door. Here is what I saw:
Dan taking a photo of the gator and me taking of photo of him.
Then I zoomed in on what he was taking a photo of:
What Dan Was Photographying by Lee 5-17-20
We still have that Variant House Finch stopping by. He feeds at the feeder up by the door. Much safer there. The sun was shining brightly, and it made him almost glow. Here a few I took a few days ago:
Variant House Finch 5-14-20
Variant House Finch 5-14-20
Variant House Finch 5-14-20
Also recently, the three species I mentioned in the first post, we spotted though the door on May 16th. Here are a few more closeups:
Great Blue Heron close up
“And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.” (Leviticus 11:19 KJV) – Don’t Eat List
Great Blue Heron with neck bent in S – Sandhill Crane in foreground
Great Egret 5-16-20
I know these are not the greatest photos, but I sure do enjoy seeing so many interesting birds to watch, and even the alligator. Stay tuned for a video I shot this morning.
I apologize for the lack of post lately. We recently purchased a new home and have been in the process of moving. Needless to say, the computer was packed up and also moved. When we finally got it up and running, the internet went down in a hugh area.
We haven’t moved in years, and this has been quite an experience. It is amazing how many things that can be re-discovered while packing or unpacking. It is also amazing, how things we packed haven’t been discovered yet. Boxes, Boxes, Everywhere Boxes. :)
So, that helps explain the lack of blogs [actually none] for awhile.
Our new backyard has a retention channel behind it about 40 to 50 feet across. While we are eating, we can see that area and have enjoyed building a list of birds seen from the table.
Great Blue Heron on other side
A Great Blue Heron has visited and sat on the other side several times. The Snowy Egret walked along the bank with his yellow feet showing. A Little Blue Heron also came by about the same time a Tricolored Heron took a stroll along the bank.
Great Blue Heron on our side
We have also seen a couple of either female Mallards or Mottled Ducks swimming in the water.
Almost forgot the Great Egret that visited.
Great Egret through screen
The yucking Muscovy Ducks seem to own this pond and yonder bank. There is a group of ten of them swimming and resting everyday, so far. [We have been here one week now.]
“Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.” (Psalms 116:5 KJV)
The Lord has been very gracious to us and we thank Him for our new house and the energy that we’ve somehow found to move. We only moved about four miles, but it is still very tiring.
Great Blue Heron on our side up close
I can’t wait to see what we will see through our windows and door as the “Winter” birds stop by. Lord willing, there should be posts again soon.
“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;” (Ephesians 6:13-15 NASB)
“for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 3:8 NASB)
All of these birds were given feet that are meant to meet their needs. The Lord has given us the “Armour of God,” Traditions/teachings of Godly preachers and teachers, preparations, etc. Then He tells us to Stand Firm, because He has provided just the right training for us, just as He has provided just the right feet for the bird’s situations.
YouTube Video by stonecabinphotos – “A Great Blue Heron spears and swallows a huge carp at Bosque del Apache NWR on 29 Oct 2013. The process took 11 minutes.”
I have seen them do this, but never with a fish this large. Watched this Great Blue catch a catfish at Circle B Reserve, but it was small compared to the one above.
Great Blue Heron with Catfish at Circle B by Lee – cropped
I can’t think of a verse that says that “you shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew.” There are verses that the Lord promises food for all his creation:
“Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalms 136:25-26 KJV)
“Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry.” (Psalms 146:7a KJV)
“He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.” (Psalms 147:9 KJV)
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1 Timothy 6:8 KJV)
This last verse reminds the Great Blue Heron that his catch and his beautiful feathers should help him be content. Though, not sure that the Heron may have a sore throat and an upset stomach.
Bolding and italics in verse added for emphasis.
To Avoid Hunger, Don’t Be a Picky Eater ! – Dr. James J. S. Johnson
And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. (Luke 10:8)
GREAT BLUE HERON ( photo: GreatEscapes.com )
Earlier today I was reviewing some pages in Peter Alden’s handy guidebook, NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY FIELD GUIDE TO NEW ENGLAND (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016), and I noticed info (on page 283) on the Great Blue Heron, whose range was described as:
“Apr.-Oct: mainly inland south to MA; nests early, disperses widely by July. Oct.-Apr.: coast of s n. Eng.” [referring to its range in the New England states].
Alden also noted the habitat of the Great Blue Heron: “Marshes, watersides” [and you usually find Great Blues near water — see Lee Dusing’s “Gatorland’s Taxi Service”, posted at https://leesbird.com/tag/great-blue-heron/ ]. This makes sense — herons are wading birds, frequenting the margins of lakes, ponds, and other well-watered wetlands.
However, don’t be shocked when you find them not-so-close to bodies of freshwater, because Great Blue Herons are good at flying — and they are opportunistic eaters (e.g., crayfish, finfish, frogs, small birds, bugs, small rodents, snakes, etc.), so they are not limited to pondshores (or seashores) for their dietary opportunities. [See, accord, “Great Blue Heron Couples, Contented with Stereotypical Domestic Roles” , posted at https://leesbird.com/2018/05/31/great-blue-heron-couples-contented-with-stereotypical-domestic-roles/ ].
Why am I not surprised, today, when I think about the opportunistic travels undertaken by Great Blue Herons? Because this morning, during my morning commute along Interstate 635 (a major highway in Dallas, with the eastbound and westbound lanes divided by an expansive grassy median) I witnessed a Great Blue Heron picking around in the median’s weedy grasses, hunting for something to eat — with no body of water anywhere in sight! Picky eaters, like Florida Kites (which focus their diet on Everglade apple snails) often go hungry — but not Great Blue Herons, because their diet is anything but “picky”. (Seems like Great Blue Herons don’t like to go hungry.)
GREAT BLUE HERON (photo: Audubon Society of Portland)
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)
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!