Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Great Blue

ATLANTA'S largest bird is the Great Blue Heron. We were delighted to see one quite close up two days in a row! The first followed us around a lake, dipping with its beak every now and again for something tasty, then always flying off just at the moment we got close enough for a really good photo. The second was hunkered down, its feathers all fluffed up, trying to keep warm in ridiculously frigid temperatures. I'm quite sure that given the choice we had - stay inside in the heated house or go out for a walk by a lake - it would have made a more sensible choice than we did.
Great blue herons stand over one metre tall and have a wingspan of almost two metres. It is a noble looking creature, though its facial markings make it appear to be frowning. In the second photo you can see how the bird has fluffed up its feathers. This is a bird's answer to layering. It has multiple layers of feathers, and by fluffing them, air is trapped between the layers generating warmth for its body. Notice also the beard in the second shot which is a feature of mature males.

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