Featured in The World As We See It Sept. 2010
Herons are remarkable not only for their patience but their resilience. These prehistoric birds were almost wiped out in North America. During the 19th century, hunters killed thousands for sport and for their prized plumage. Heron feathers adorned ladies hats and decorative military helmets. In 1900 an ounce of plumes brought $32. And it took four herons to produce an ounce of plumage. Millions of birds were slaughtered.
The death of so many herons prompted the creation of the Audubon Society, which lobbied successfully for legislation outlawing the killing of herons and egrets. Yet even more herons died during the 20th century, unwittingly poisoned by the popular pesticide DDT.
But since 1972, when DDT was banned, the blue heron has mounted a remarkable comeback, even though its wetland habitats have been diminishing. Herons have been able to adapt to new challenges because they have few predators (humans and eagles), and they are willing to eat just about anything. In addition to fish, great blue herons consume frogs, salamanders, crustaceans, small mammals, snakes, small birds, and even insects.
Photographed in the back bay marsh of Fenwick Island Delaware
Taken with a Nikon D90 and a Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4G ED VR Lens