Catch and Release – Great Blue Heron Style

I went out for an afternoon walk yesterday.  I took my Nikon V2 and 70-300mm CX along just-in-case because hot afternoons are usually slow times for nature shooting.  But, I was wrong.  When I crossed the last bridge towards Ponce de Leon Park I notice a few birds in the retention pond past the Vivante gate.  I was surprised to find our feathered friends in abundance and partaking of a Florida Hot Afternoon Delight – hangin’ at the pool.  Here are a couple of shots.  Just click on them for a larger view.

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It isn’t often you see an Osprey in the wading pool with other birds.

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A Cormorant was having a fine time splashing about while a Little Blue Heron stalked the edge.

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Juvenile White Ibis were also feeding.  But the most unusual behavior I saw was a Great Blue Heron practicing Catch and Release fishing.  Pretty odd for a big bird that needs to eat a lot.  It took a while before I figured it out.  There was an immature Great Blue a little bit away.  It was cooling off by squatting down in the water.  Maybe it was playing at being a duck.  A little way closer was the parent catching fish.

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I think the parent was trying to teach the young one to catch fish.  It would first catch a small fish and then squash it a bit in it’s beak then it would drop it into the water and catch it again.  The young one just sat there watching.

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After the parent had disabled a couple of fish it continued to walk around ‘fishing’ only in this case it was merely demonstrating the strike since it was happily catching and releasing small sticks while the young’un watched.


It was a certainly a pleasant half hour to stand by the pond.


About birds n' bugs

Retired, living in SW Florida and spending my time at nature photography in my local area. I volunteer with a couple of local organizations to help my adopted home town. Travelling is now by airplane and car instead of a sailboat but happy anyway.
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2 Responses to Catch and Release – Great Blue Heron Style

  1. Bruce says:

    A really fascinating account of heron behaviour and a reluctant learner!

  2. George Biavati says:

    I experienced a similar behavior this morning. After 20years of watching Blue Herons on my 5 acre pond I saw a GBH catch a good size BlueGill and catch and release it several times and eventually walk away. I had never witnessed that behavior before with a live fish. With a dead fish they eventually discard the fish.
    The only reason I can think of was the fish was too big to swallow.

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