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.
On 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.
I 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.
Lori D says
Where did you see this bird? At Lake Michigan? I grew up in the burbs and rarely saw a diversity of birds there. Never saw any herons at all. It’s great that you get to see them. I’m not a big fan of where I live now (FL), but the wildlife really is something to behold. I love spotting unique birds, and there are several right at the man-made lake in our neighborhood. The Roseate Spoonbill shows up once in a great while. It’s a pink bird … almost magenta in color.
Thanks for sharing your elusive grey heron.
I saw the grey heron at the North Pond in Lincoln Park. It’s the pond just north of Fullerton, behind the Nature Museum. The ponds in Lincoln Park have been getting better care and management over the years, and the result has been a greater variety of wildlife frequenting the ponds. (Over the years, in addition to birds, I have seen a coyote and even a beaver!) A friend tells me that there are organized bird-watching walks with a guide at the North Pond–I think they are every Wednesday morning?
Anyway, it is fun to look at nature’s other creatures. You must see some beautiful birds in Florida–and I love the plant life–I love going to the Fairchild Gardens on the rare occasions when I get down to Miami. I would be thrilled to see the roseate spoonbill!!!!
Good to hear from you. Take care,
Those are really fascinating pictures!! The first one is so beautiful! The heron looks so regal in the background of the pond. I walk around that pond from time to time but simply don’t have the eye to recognize the different species of herons. I’m so glad that the water and surroundings are now conducive to a variety of wildlife.
Thanks, Harley. The number of birds and turtles around the pond is fairly impressive, and even if one doesn’t care for nature, it is pretty fun watching the ‘human parade.’ We’re lucky to have such a beautiful place to walk.