Grey heron

At the North Pond, I’ve seen great-blue herons, green herons, bitterns, cormorants, and black-crowned night herons, both adult and juvenile, as well as all kinds of geese, ducks, gulls, and other water birds, to the point where I supposed there was nothing new to see.

Grey heron, North Pond (Chicago), © 2014 Celia Her CityOn a recent afternoon, though, I happened to see an unfamiliar bird wading along the west shore of the pond under a tree.  It turned out to be a grey heron.

Its silhouette is distinctive.  The grey heron has a longer neck than the great blue heron and a more slender body.  Unlike the great-blue, the grey heron tends to hold its neck straighter, showing off its great height and graceful profile.  The grey heron has a monochromatic plumage, with few specialized feathers, whereas the great-blue heron often has rust-colored plumage, feathers of various colors and texture, and a jaunty tuft of long feathers at the back of its head.

Also, this bird was wading in the shallows, moving around as it hunted (it even caught a fish while I was watching).  This is very different from the great-blue herons I’ve seen at the pond, who are usually perched on snags, and which I have seldom seen casually wading around.

grey-heron-wadingI took a number of photos of the heron, but the light conditions were not too promising, and I was worried about the bird flying away.  None of the pictures is very good, but they do capture some of the excitement of seeing a mysterious new bird, especially a big bird like this that blends in so beautifully with its surroundings.  I’m really quite lucky to have seen it at all.

Click images to enlarge.

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