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Heron standing on chimney. A living weather vane?

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

Posted on Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
Under: heron | No Comments »

This great egret is looking for fish in a local swimming pool

Great egret by backyard pool. Photo by Norma Lent, Lafayette, CA.
great egret1 norma lent laf

Gary:
This beautiful bird was sitting on my patio a few feet from my back door this afternoon. He stayed for several minutes. What is it, and why would he pick a spot so near my house to take a rest?
Norma Lent, Lafayette, California

Norma:
It’s a great egret … a large white heron. It is actually pretty common to find them resting in backyards that have swimming pools. These birds hunt for fish, amphibians, etc., in our local creeks and ponds. As far as they are concerned a swimming pool is a natural pond, so this one is checking your pool out to see if there’s anything to eat. From the looks of your photos, your pool is located in a pretty wild, natural area. It should eventually realize there’s nothing edible in those greenish depths and fly off to look for other places to hunt. Nice photos. /Gary

Egret flies away. Photo by Norma Lent, Lafayette, CA
great egret2 norma lent laf

Posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
Under: Great egret, heron | 1 Comment »