Great Blue Heron
General Description: Large slate-gray body, with chestnut and black accents. Has long legs and neck. Adults have a shaggy ruff at the neck and a black eyebrow extending back to black plumes emerging from the head. Juveniles have a dark crown, no plumes or ruff, and have a mottled neck. Wingspan is six feet wide.
Habitat: A variety of habitats including sheltered shallow bays, sloughs, marshes, wet meadows, lake shores, and rivers. Forages in slow-moving or calm salt, fresh, or brackish water. Nesting colonies are found in mature forests, on islands, and near mudflats.
Behavior: Stalks or stands silently waiting for prey, and then strikes with its bill. The heron forages alone or in small-groups, and nests in colonies.
Diet: Fish, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, small mammals, and other birds. This versatility in diet allows the species to live farther north than other herons.
Range in North America: Found throughout the U.S. and southern Canada.
When to See in Washington: Year-round resident. Forages in wetlands, estuaries, and riparian habitats, and roosts in prominent rookeries.