June 18, 2009


That's what it's called when a whole bunch of herons hang out together: heronry. The word strikes me funny. It sounds like an act one might commit, like adultery. A heron, however, would not commit adultery because they are monogamous birds. It's so romantic, don't you think?
There may be up to 75 Great Blue Herons communing in one heronry, but on our lake there are only two, as far as I can tell. They may be a couple, and if so, they probably have nestlings nearby, and if there are nestlings nearby, they'll be ready to fly the coop sometime in July-- according to my internet sources. I'll let you know if I spot any real-life baby bird activity.
To tell the truth, I haven't even heard the herons call out there. I had to listen to the call on Wikipedia, and I'm glad they're not chatty because the heron honk sounds like an angry trucker laying on the horn.
We have seen them, though. We all climbed in the boat yesterday and very quietly followed, and attempted to photograph, both herons. We were mostly unsuccessful, but it is peaceful out there. I'm not much for zooming around the pond at high speeds-- too many goose bumps, too much hair whipping-- but I do like it when we turn off the engine just drift for a while. That's just what we were doing when the heron took off, and I took the photo above. Yep, it's a bit blurry. I'm still learning.
In the meantime, here's a nugget I Wikied about herons:
"Herons are also known as "shitepokes", or euphemistically as "shikepokes." Webster's Dictionary suggests that herons were given this name because of their habit of defecating when flushed. The terms "shitepoke" or "shikepoke" can be used as insults in a number of situations."
Just remember, if you choose to use shikepoke as an epithet, you'll be calling someone a beautiful, faithful bird-- although they do eat frogs, snakes, insects and sometimes other baby birds, so there's that.


Anonymous said...

They are my favorite bird. I see one often in the swamp near the gas station that I use. Sometimes I see them while letterboxing too.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting tidbits. Do they nest on the islands? Now I feel ready for the day. A bit a nature will stay with me while I'm working away at my keyboard - indoors... Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

I always considered it lucky to see a heron. I feel all hopeful and happy inside. I think somewhere in my birdbrain I've transposed the legends of storks onto these birds. Why I feel the same way about seeing a blimp, I'm even less sure. But I did look like a blimp while I was preggers,so maybe it's all about that love of anticipated joy. Enjoy your lovely neighbors.