Category   Birds of BC: Great Blue Heron
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Great Blue Heron
Ardea herodias

The Great Blue Heron is a familiar sight in many parts of North America, and it is a common species in southern British Columbia, with the greatest numbers in the south coastal region. It is Canada's largest heron, standing up to a meter and a half tall.

It nests colonially in stands of trees, with 150 or more nests being possible. Courtship involves a variety of displays, bill-clapping, and guttural calls. Three to five eggs are commonly laid, but the average number of young fledged per nest is fewer than three. Some are taken by eagles, and some perish when they fall from the nest.

Herons are usually associated with wetland habitats, and British Columbia's birds are no exception. As might be expected, however, they also feed extensively on exposed mudflats at low tide, where concentrations of over one hundred birds may be seen. They also feed in wet fields, on snakes, frogs, and small mammals.

In British Columbia, although the Great Blue Heron is common, biologists have noted a decline in numbers, and the species has been "blue-listed", marking it for more careful monitoring. Its graceful figure reflected in a quiet lagoon is a moving sight; one that we should not take for granted.

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