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Canada's Species   Birds

Great Blue Heron

Ardea herodias

Great Blue Heron. Photo:Peter Mirejovsky
Great Blue Heron. Photo:Peter Mirejovsky

This species is commonly seen standing motionless in freshwater or saltwater shallows as it waits for a small fish, frog, or invertebrate to pass by. At just the right moment, this heron quickly thrusts its long bill into the water to capture its prey. Great blue herons can be seen from March to December in southern Canada, with the rare straggler heading south only when forced to by ice cover and extreme cold weather. Great Blue Herons nest in large colonies; perhaps the largest colony in the world, with over 1000 breeding pairs, is found on La Grande Ile on Lac Saint-Pierre, Quebec. This heron builds its nest high in treetops, and always has the highest nests where found nesting with other species. great blue herons are among the largest nesting birds in Canada, with a standing height of about 60 cm. One banded heron was found to live over 23 years! Although this species is prevalent in Canada, much of the great blue heron's wetland and wooded island habitat in southern Canada continues to be degraded, drained and cleared. Consequently, this species is on the Audubon Society Blue List.

Map of Great Blue Heron in Canada
Distribution of Great Blue Heron in Canada

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