Meet Harold, Our Neighborhood Heron

Harold easily stands four feet high with a wingspan of six feet. How do we know? He has stood beside the fence in the cottage garden, providing us with an opportunity to take accurate measurements. Our fence is four feet high and each section is six feet wide. Yes, he's a big bird!

This Great Blue Heron wings his way between the ponds, creeks and water features in our neighborhood. Our house is right in the middle of his twice-daily flight path. On a recent December morning, we found Harold perched upon the top of a dead tree down by our creek in the woods. He was preening his feathers right before the photo was taken.

Common in our area, Great Blue Herons remain year-round, and we're always thrilled to see one. We often see these grand birds, along with egrets, ospreys and eagles, when we kayak on nearby Jordan Lake in the summer.

Great Blue Herons eat voles, fish, amphibians, reptiles and even other smaller birds. A water feature, stocked with ten cent goldfish, may attract a heron and help you with a vole problem. However, you may want to skip keeping expensive koi if there's a heron around.

We used to have seven goldfish in the water feature (stream). So far, Harold has caught all but one. The remaining goldfish hides under the bridge when any shadow approaches. That's a great survival skill. Considering that most Great Blue Herons will live to be around fifteen years old, our goldfish may have to hide out for many years. Since male and female herons look alike, it's difficult to say whether we'll ever see an increase in the heron population.

Harold isn't particularly shy. We once had a stare down. My husband and I sat on the garden bench and Harold held his ground on top of the chimney. Harold won his fish that day after we got tired and went inside the house.

Our greyhound, Charm, has lost a few of her fetch toys outside in our meadow. Actually, Charm didn't lose the toys-- they were stolen. One disappeared, so we bought another. Within one day, the second toy disappeared. There are no stray dogs roaming our neighborhood. Not long after purchasing the third toy, Harold flew in low overhead while we were outside playing fetch. He definitely had his eye on the flying disk!

Could it be that there's a stash of dog toys hidden in Harold's nest?

Photo and story by Freda Cameron



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