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Heron standing on chimney. A living weather vane?

By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 at 6:07 am in heron.

Heron weather vane? Standing on chimney. Photo by Sherri Hedman, San Ramon, CA
1heron sherri hedman san ramon

Gary:
October 1, at 10:30 a.m. I saw a heron fly onto the cemented area inside our Town Home’s nearest fenced pool area (wrought iron poles) about 220 feet away. A few moments later I noticed something long and skinny dangling from it’s beak, which must have been a snake. I guess it flew in with it to eat in an area where the snake couldn’t easily escape. A few minutes later I saw the heron briefly dip it’s head in the pool — was it drinking or trying to subdue it’s meal? It was in the pool area for at least 10 minutes. In spring I had walked the asphalt walking path that skirts our area and saw a heron eating in the adjacent long grass; then on my way home an hour later it was inside one of the pool areas. I had passed a man and his dog who walk it daily, who told me (the man, not the dog) they had been seeing the heron for months. I wonder if you know how big a heron’s territory is and how long they live?  We see them at our beach place on salt water all the time but this is a real treat in San Ramon!
Sherri Hedman, San Ramon, California

Sherri:
Herons have been known to forage from 1-3 miles from their breeding colonies, depending on the availability of food. They normally live from 8-10 years, but individuals have been known to survive as long as 20 years.

Herons perceive our backyard swimming pools as natural ponds, spotting them as they fly over your house, and often hang around them looking for prey. I once saw a heron trying to swallow a gopher. It was having a little trouble, so it walked over to the edge of a pond and started taking large drinks in an effort, at least that’s how it looked to me, to wash the gopher down with water. After several big drinks, it managed to swallow the gopher. Maybe that was what was happening with the snake. /Gary

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