Great Blue Heron, Big Blue Needs our Help After Window Strike

Posted January 9, 2020 by Vindi Sekhon

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The Great Blue Heron is a magnificent sight, whether floating on a river bend or cruising the coastline with slow, deep wing beats. The heron with its subtle blue-gray plumage stands quiescent, scanning for prey. Although they drift, they can strike quickly to grab a fish or other prey. When they are in flight, you will note their necks tucked-in and long legs trailing behind

Great Blue Heron leads a tough life from the time they’re born. Parents commonly lay between one to three eggs in a single nest, with each egg roughly a day apart. This often leads to silicide or the practice of siblings fighting over resources to survive.

From an evolutionary standpoint, it’s thought this is a way for the stronger of the children to carry on their genes, but occasionally this can be unfair as the older sibling who hatched first had the advantage of age and starts to push the younger ones out.

Caring for Great Blue Heron such as this is a lot of work. They require constant attention-particularly when they’re in groups to ensure no violence breaks out. Yet while this is a concern, typically this behavior is only exhibited when there’s a scarcity of resources, so while they’re in care its quickly made clear there’s going to be enough food for all of them.

In the wild Great Blue Heron will travel with their parent(s) to their hunting grounds after 60 days of growth. Here they will learn to hunt for fish, frogs, and voles until they are fit to live independently.

To encourage these essential life skills, Wildlife Rescue takes great care in ensuring an ordered process for the birds to understand the “hunt” is put into their treatment plan.

First, we simply place a bucket of smelt within the shelter of the birds to ensure they take on self-feeding. As the week’s progress and they show signs of improvement, we will place the smelt in a larger pond instead of the bucket where the heron will learn that food exists in similar environments and take on the role of catching and feeding themselves. This allows them to learn about depth and perception and get comfortable to dive into the water for food.

Once the Great Blue Heron, Big Blue has proven its ability to fly, self-feed and demonstrate hunting skills on live prey he will be scheduled for release back into the wild.

If you come across an injured bird, act quickly. Assess the bird and place it in a dark box or under a colander to avoid cat or other predator attacks. Handle the bird as little as possible and give our Support Centre a call at 604-526-7275 for further instruction.

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