Ornithologi

A studio for bird study

Tag: fish

Gluttony and the Great Blue Heron

by Bryce W. Robinson

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The other day I observed a Great Blue Heron- Ardea herodias, that had caught a fish seemingly too large to handle. The above image is directly after the bird had speared the fish, and was working on a way to get the meal down its throat. Yes, I did say spear. Before this instance, I was under the impression that herons never speared their prey, rather they stabbed at the prey only to grasp it in its bill. This bird speared the fish, effectively killing it, then retrieved it from the water. I believe that if the bird had not done so, the large fish would have been too strong as it struggled to escape the herons clasping bill.

I also was taken aback at the size comparison this photo illustrates between the Herring Gull- Larus argentatus, and the Great Blue Heron. Heron’s seem like such large birds when standing alone. Anyway, I took a sequence of photos of the heron struggling the fish down its throat. The sequence is as follows:

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IMG_2815You can see in the last photo where the fish still sits in the birds body. This will undoubtedly take a while to digest. I was impressed in the least. I absolutely love seeing predators eat, and the heron is one bird that always delights. I once came upon a photo of a Great Blue Heron that had killed and was holding in its bill a Least Bittern, about to consume the close relative. How bizarre.

Anyway, I felt lucky to see this instance, even luckier to capture it on film.

 

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Osprey

by Bryce W. Robinson

Osprey- Pandion haliaetus. 11×14″ colored pencil on bristol

Throughout my life I have had limited exposure to the fish hunter Pandion haliaetus. I’d like to spend more time in search of this bird, and really get to know all of it’s behaviors and characteristics. It stands true to say that there certainly is not a bird in the sky quite like the Osprey. It is remarkably unique, a fact that induces fascination and intrigue. Every time I find the Osprey, I sit in awe as it hunts the waters for its finned food.

In the past six months I have had two experiences with the Osprey. Of the two, one sits as a special memory in my mind. I was birding along the Colorado River in eastern California. I had come to see the Cibola Refuge, after hearing rumors of its birding grandeur. I wouldn’t say it lived up to its hype, however I certainly wasn’t disappointed. On my way out of the refuge, I passed a small inlet of calm water, separated from the Colorado much like an ox-bow. Catching a hovering silhouette in the golden light of the setting sun, I stopped the car to the spectacle of a hunting Osprey.

The Osprey hovers above water, watching for fish as they surface to glean their own food. Seeing a chance, the Osprey dives to the water with wings flexed back, talons stretched forward, open and ready for the grab. The osprey I watched seemed hesitant at each opportunity. It would dive, catching itself half way down as it lost lock on its fish, and the opportunity for food. It appeared as something of a dance, as the rhythm of the hover was periodically interrupted with a reverberating roll as it dove and rolled back into a hover. With the long light of the setting sun casting long shadows, all anxieties melted away as I let myself become fully involved with the hunting raptor. This instance is one of too few in my life, when my spirit settles and I am truly at peace.