Birds Commonly Seen at the Rookery
Great Blue Heron
The Great Blue Heron measures 42-52 inches high with a wing spread of 6 feet. Sexes appear similar, although the male is slightly larger in size. The bird is recognized by its large grayish-blue body, long legs, long whitish neck, dagger-like bill, and white about the head.
The Great Blue Heron is the largest heron found in Florida. A highly adaptable bird, it is located in a variety of habitats including the Venice Area Audubon Rookery. This bird is commonly observed standing silently along inland rivers or lake shores, or flying high overhead with slow wing beats, its head hunched back onto its shoulders.
Great Blue Herons nest from November through May. The nest is a large flat platform made of twigs and lined with leaves, grass, fine twigs, and other plant material. The male brings the nesting materials to the female who builds it over 3-14 days. They usually have 3-4 pale greenish-blue eggs and incubation occurs over a 23-26 day period. Both sexes share in nest-sitting chores and in provision of nestling food—mostly regurgitated fish. One of the parents is always present for the first 3-4 weeks. Nesting is usually completed by 4-5 weeks. Young are able to fly short distances at 5 weeks and fly with the adults at 6-8 weeks.
The heron’s diet consists mostly of fish but they also consume crustaceans, frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, insects, rodents and birds. The heron forages for food by standing or walking in shallow water, waiting for fish to come close, and then catching them with a rapid bill thrust.