10 March 2009


great blue heron.

if you don't keep up with taxonomic debates within biological circles, you'll still understand this entry's title if you've seen the movie "Jurassic Park", with its reference to birds and dinosaurs having a common ancestor. paleontology has refined the connection since that movie, as evidenced in a recent NOVA episode on PBS. and even if you have seen neither the movie nor the tv episode, if you've ever watched a great blue heron fly silently past, especially in the crepuscular light of dawn or dusk, your imagination may well make the visual leap to this Cretaceous creature. here is a description, from the back of the Audubon card from which i lifted this photo:

"if you accidentally surprise a great blue heron (ardea herodias) as it stands, motionless but alert for fish or frogs, in its watery hunting ground, it will reward you with a sight straight out of the Jurassic. the tall, long-necked bird gathers itself, jumps, and flaps away in slow motion on three-foot wings, it body language whispering Pterodactyl.

"the apparent laziness of its wing beat belies the speed a blue heron can achieve -- easily over twenty miles per hour -- and its size would suggest a greater body weight than its typical five to eight pounds. it is unexpectedly prolific, too; as many as seven eggs have been found in a great blue heron's nest."


  1. Ok, I will bite. How is this a link to the Jurassic?

    We used to have them on our little lake in Michigan--Hamburg Lake. They were a bit shy.

  2. hey wgl -- i shall expand that entry to explain. stay tuned -- rys