Welcome to bird of the week! This week’s featured bird is the majestic great blue heron. It is officially spring and with spring comes the return of great blue herons to Southeast Michigan. Right now, these tall, long-legged birds are engaging in courtship rituals and nest building. Great blue herons are colony nesters, meaning they nest with other herons, placing their large nests high up in trees in what is called a rookery or heronry. Often these herons place rookeries on small islands to protect themselves and their young from predators like raccoons, such as on the island at Kensington Metropark on Wildwing lake. Taking a stroll on the wooded boardwalk of the lake, will allow you ample opportunities to observe these magnificent creatures. Binoculars can be helpful for viewing great blue heron behavior up-close, however there are plenty of heron behaviors you can notice with just the naked eye. For instance, while observing the rookery you may notice the birds’ hunting technique. While stalking its prey, the heron stands with those long legs in the shallows of the lake, perfectly still, watching for even the slightest movement. When a target is identified, the heron thrusts its neck forward, plunging its beak into the waters below. Most of the time the retrieved meal will be a fish, such as a perch or a blue gill, but the great blue heron has also been known to catch frogs, birds and even muskrat!
We invite you to check out the heron rookery at Kensington Metropark to observe these as well as other heron behaviors while walking along the boardwalk at Wildwing Lake. Hope to see you there soon