Great Blue Heron

GREAT Blue Heron.webp
 

Our Heron Solutions

 

Based on our inspection, we will determine exactly what bird control method will rid you of your heron problem and implement it quickly and efficiently. We use many different methods of bird control so that we can ensure you are getting exactly the type of control you need. Select the options below if you are interested in learning more about the control methods we use.

Heron Control Specialists

 

Our top recommendation for heron control is pond netting. We offer netting designed specifically to protect ponds and prevents herons and other birds like seagulls from swooping in or preying on the fish inside a pond. Larger commercial operations can have pond netting installed to keep birds out. Fish hatcheries in particular tend to benefit most from pond netting installation.

Pond netting is a permanent solution to your bird control problem It will last 20+ years and remain sturdy throughout all weather situations. It can also be combined with other bird control methods.

Grid wire systems are another option that can also be installed around the boundary of a pond. Grid wire prevents herons from standing next to the pond and fishing out the goldfish or koi inside the pond. Wire can also be installed on docks, ledges, and rooftops to prevent herons from perching in these areas.

Various other options can be considered depending on the scenario. Visual scare devices like scarecrows or food source reduction can be put into place depending on the specific heron infestation.

Remember that herons are protected by the Migratory Bird Act of 1918. This means that you cannot harm or kill a heron or move its nest by law in North America. Heron deterrents, on the other hand, are perfectly okay as long as it is humane. Contact a bird control company for more information on the best ways to implement heron deterrence, while following all federal and local policies and guidelines.

Herons can be beautiful birds. But in the wrong situation, they are pests. AviAway offers free bird control consultations where we can walk you through the steps to take to solve your bird control problem, discuss if professional bird control is necessary, and suggest further actions. Click here or call 844-247-3373 to set up a free bird control consultation. We can find a custom solution to your unique heron issue that solves your problem and won't hurt the birds.

We think about what you need when developing a custom plan for your heron problem. We take several factors into consideration, inlcuding:

  • How long has the heron problem been going on?

  • How severe is the heron problem?

  • Are there available food and water sources nearby?

  • What type of damage are the birds causing?

  • Koi ponds or other outdoor fish ponds that require protection?

  • Are there any liability issues due to the bird infestation? 

 

About Herons

Cruising the shoreline with slow, deep wingbeats or whether poised at a river bend, the Heron is a gallant sight. Herons can move like lightning to catch a fish or snap up a gopher, although they may go slowly. In flight, look for this extensive heron’s tucked-in neck and long legs. It is the greatest of all the North American blue herons with a graceful neck, long legs, and thick, dagger like bill. Torso, head, and wing plumes give off a shaggy look. In flight, the Heron twists its long neck into a constricted “S” contour; its wings are rounded and wide and the legs trail beyond its tail.  

 

Herons seem blue-grey from a distance, with a broad black stripe covering the eye. In flight, the upper side of the wing is light on the flight feathers on the forewing and darker. A pure white subspecies appears in coastal southern Florida.

Taxonomy

Order: 

Family:

Genus: 

Species: 

Common Names:

Pelecaniformes

Ardeidae

Ardea

A. Herodias

Great Blue Heron, 

Blue Crane, Blue Heron, Great Blue

Herons have been able to adapt well to human landscape changes. Many herons can be found in urban areas or even farmlands where heronries exist in the highest numbers. Burgeoning populations of herons in these areas have led to some species being considered pests.

 

Herons are typically monogamous birds, forming long-term pair bonds. Breeding begins with the nest being built by both mates. The nest can be made from sticks, reeds, or even plastic bags. Egg-laying usually takes place during the warmer seasons. Incubation times vary depending on heron species, but the average is generally five weeks. Chicks are born without feathers with cryptic coloring to blend in with their surroundings so they will not be preyed upon. 

Evolutionary Traits

 

The herons' evolutionary lineage dates back to the Oligocene period and is within the same family as storks. Herons have been around for at least 30 million years, and in that time, herons' and egrets' adaptive traits leave them ideally suited for their aquatic lifestyles. Herons, like other Pelecaniformes, have developed a reversible outer toe, a feature that allows them to grasp branches with their feet. This reversible outer toe, along with herons' long legs and neck, give herons an edge when fishing in shallow waters.

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Herons have also evolved large, powerful beaks that easily catch and swallow fish. Their long, slender beak allows herons to consume a range of animal prey, including invertebrates and vertebrates such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Diet

 

Herons use a wide range of foraging strategies and techniques to eat such a wide variety of prey. Heron diet is mainly carnivorous; heron diet depends on heron species as well as habitat, season, and level of exploitation by humans. Some herons, like the night heron, will hunt in shallow

water, where herons stand motionless for long periods with their bill in the water, waiting to catch an unsuspecting fish. Herons can also use their bills to impale fish, frogs, and other prey. Herons sometimes even fold back their heads while catching prey.

Other herons like the Reddish Egret use a heron fishing technique called "still-hunting." Herons standing motionless in the water for extended periods of time, and will strike their prey when it comes within reach. Herons can also hunt by standing or walking along the shoreline, stabbing at fish that come too close.

The outward appearance of the heron may give the impression that it is a slower bird species.  They are very fast when spearing food and in flight. A heron can fly at heights up to 90’ when looking for food sources.  When flying, the heron will look for various reflections in the bodies and related areas when searching for food sources.  After a food supply is found, the heron will search the area for any predators before it will fly in.

Behavioral Traits

 

Herons are a large family of wading birds that can be found in many different habitats worldwide. Herons have long legs and necks that allow them to forage in shallow water for various heron prey. Some herons have developed adaptions that make them successful fishermen, such as their long, slender beaks, ideal for catching fish. Herons can reach about 30 MPH in flight speed.

Herons are very social birds that live in colonies or heronries. Many heron species will stay together year-round, while others like the Great Blue Heron will disperse during the non-breeding season. Herons use various vocalizations to communicate with one another.

Herons are territorial birds and often compete with other heron species for food and nesting sites. Breeding season is usually a time of intense competition for herons. Nesting herons will often use distraction displays to try and defend their nests. Herons are most vulnerable to predators when still young and without enough wing feathers for flight.

 

Life Cycle

Reproduction

 

Breeding herons are monogamous, meaning that they mate with one heron during the breeding season. Herons will perform mating rituals to court their heron mates. Some of the most common heron courtship rituals include "preening," "billing," and "dancing." Preening involves both herons spreading their feathers and then grooming them with their beaks. Herons will also "bill" each other by gently tapping their beaks together. Sometimes, herons will perform a courtship dance where the male heron will bow to the female heron and then extend his wings.

Herons use a variety of calls to communicate with heron mates.

Nesting Behavior

 

Heron heronry begins in late heron spring and ends mid heron summer. Herons will lay 2-6 eggs light brown colored and long, oval-shaped. Herons incubate heron eggs for around four weeks, although this period can range depending on heron species.

Herons will feed chicks a diet of insects for the first few weeks after hatching, after which they are slowly weaned onto a diet of fish. Chicks will fledge from the heronry around 7-8 weeks old.

Nesting Material

Egg Description

ruler in centimeters
Great Blue Heron Egg.webp

 

Size: 

Color: 

 

Incubation: 

Brood Size: 

Frequency:

 

6 - 7 centimeters

Pale Blue

27 - 30 days

2 - 3 eggs

1 - 2 times per year

 

Herons build their nests in trees, shrubs, or on the ground. Herons will often use the same nesting site year after year. Heron nests are usually a platform of sticks that both mates line. The nest can be made from sticks, reeds, or even plastic bags. Egg-laying usually takes place during the warmer seasons; herons typically lay 2-6 long and oval-shaped eggs.

Some herons use artificial heron nests. Herons have been known to build nests on power poles, houses, or even nesting boxes designed especially for herons.

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Maturity & Lifespan

 

Herons tend to live to be about fifteen years old, though they can live to be twenty. The oldest heron ever recorded lived to be 23 years old. Like other birds, herons are most vulnerable when they are young or in the nest. This period of their life is when they are most at-risk from heron predators. More than half of herons die before they are one year old.

 

Great Blue Heron Distribution in North America

 

Herons are social birds and will often congregate in large numbers at heronries. Hundreds of herons will gather in a heronry, although some herons will breed in smaller groups or even alone. Heron heronries are typically located in areas that offer a large tree for herons to build their nest and proximity to heronry. Some herons will even fly up to 90 km from their feeding area to reach a heronry.

Herons live in wetlands and aquatic habitats, consisting of shallow lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers. Many herons have adapted to living near humans by nesting along coastlines and in heron urban areas. Herons are beneficial to the environment because they help control fish and other heron prey populations.

Breeding

Non-Breeding

Year Round

Migrating

 

The Problem With Great Blue Herons

For pond owners, their first encounter with a heron is indirect when fish in their pond begin to vanish in whole or in part. If the heron understands that a fast meal can be found in a pond (residential body of water), it will continue to return in search of food.   

Koi Ponds and Bodies of Water

 

Usually, the heron remains on the edge of the pond and is in a crouching position or will stride into the pond, and wait for a fish. These enormous birds can be in this position for extended length of time while searching for food.  As time passes, fish (food) will eventually near the water line at which point the heron will strike.  The heron captures its food by spearing the fish with its bill that is extremely sharp and long.  Next, it will swallow the entire fish.  This process will continue if the food supply remains constant or run outs.  In which case the heron will move on to find a new food source. 

In most cases, if you are having a problem with Great Blue Herons, your home or business is in very proximity to a body of water (water front homes, retention ponds or Koi ponds).  Please note that the Great Blue Heron is a protect bird under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and cannot be harmed in any way.  As such, there are a few methods to deter the Great Blue Heron from water bodies.

Herons can also disturb farm animals, spread diseases, and contaminate water sources. Their droppings can contain parasites, are unsightly, and can also spread disease.