Ardea Herodias (or let me tell you why I like herons)

heron2Ardea Herodias or the Great Blue Heron is a wading bird often seen in ponds or in marshes.  He is the tall skinny bird with the long neck who often blends in with the reeds and cattails at the water’s edge.  He is a shy bird who will not let you get too close.  If you get too near, he will squawk or croak and fly away.

Their wing span is enormous, and they can cover long distances in a very short amount of time.  It’s almost impossible to follow one on the ground (or in your car).  They disappear that quickly and are soon just a speck on the horizon. When flying, they tuck their long neck up into almost an “s” shape, and they fly with their legs streaming out behind them.  They are easy to identify in the sky because of those legs.

heron3They stand approximately 4 feet tall and have an almost 6 foot wing span yet they only weigh around 5-7 pounds.  Their main diet is small fish, and they will stand stationery in the water for long periods of time patiently watching for their prey. They spear their catch with their long bill.

Where I live, they are a migratory bird, and the season that I can look for them goes by all too quickly. They usually disappear and fly South in the fall and then return in the spring.  I have seen some in December, but that is rare.

heron4I adopted the heron as my favorite bird and my own personal symbol several years ago.  We used to take lots of road trips and drives as a family.  While we were out, my boys would look for trains to photograph, and I would look for herons.  It gave me something to do so I didn’t get bored, and I began to look forward to those car rides.

The best places to see herons near me are the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge – and the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge –

According to Avia Venefica:

“As a Chinese symbol the Heron represents strength, purity, patience and long life. In Africa, the Heron was thought to communicate with the Gods. Most Native American tribes took note of the heron’s inquisitiveness, curiosity and determination.  As such this set the heron as a symbol of wisdom in that this creature seemed to have good judgement skills. Specifically, the Iroquois tribe held the blue heron as a very good omen, a very lucky sign.  They recognized the heron as an expert fisher/hunter.  As such, they believed that sighting a heron before a hunt was a sign that the hunt would be a good one.” (

heron5I find the heron mysterious and majestic.  They are graceful and solitary.  Four years ago I got a small tattoo of a heron on my ankle.  To me it represents the ability to stand alone, uniqueness, independence, vigilance, quiet, the power of water, tact, delicacy, renewal, life and transformation. I couldn’t have found a better symbol to represent who I am.



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