Mission: To promote the appreciation of wildlife and increase harmony between humanity and nature.

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Other Heron

Union Bay has one more bird from the heron family besides the Great Blue and the Green Heron.

This bird is not as large as the Great Blue Heron, nor is it as small and colorful as the Green Heron. The most obvious way this heron is different than the others is its simple brown and white coloring.
On the other hand its yellow eyes and beak look a lot like the other Union Bay members of the heron family.

In addition its hunting behavior is very similar to the other two...
...however there are a number of ways in which this bird is unique. 

When first approached this bird put its beak straight up in the air and froze in place. 
Then very gently the bird swayed from left to right and back. It seemed like this bird was attempting a "Jedi" mind trick. As if via mental telepathy, it was saying, "You see only swaying grass, there is no bird in front of you." 

While the "Jedi" trick did not work (at least on me), it apparently worked in the bird's mind. The bird seemed to believe it had become invisible. After a few moments it simply turned and resumed its silent and stealthy hunting.

One of the most impressive parts of this bird is its sturdy feet and claws.

As the bird stalked along the water's edge it suddenly seemed to encounter something that startled it. For just a brief moment, feathers around its head and neck flared out in a manner that may be unique to this type of heron. It made the bird look larger and more intimidating.

A moment later the bird returned to its normal look and behavior.

Although this bird was seen at the Union Bay Natural Area it is usually heard, not seen. Its unique call sounds a bit like an old-fashioned, water pump as the water begins to flow. This member of the heron family is called the American Bittern

When you are near the water's edge on Union Bay be sure to look carefully at the swaying grass, you may be surprised by what you see.

Larry Hubbell


  1. Replies
    1. It sounds so much like water it is hard to believe it is a living creature. We are very lucky to have a place where a bird like this can live, within a city of a half a million people.