Where water grass grows evergreen
On damp cool flats by gentle streams,
Still as a ghost and sad of mien,
With half closed eyes the heron dreams.
from Poems, by Maurice Thompson, 1892.
The Great Blue Heron is a large, elegant bird that can usually be seen slowly wading in shallow water searching for fish, frogs, and other aquatic life on which to dine- including snakes. Interesting enough- they aren't always a good judge of what can be swallowed and have been known to choke on food that is too large for their throat. (Notice the large Perch that the Great Blue Heron in the photo is about to swallow.) But, they do have the instinct to turn fish around before trying to swallow them- so that the fins do not catch in their throat. Great Blue Herons are also known to hunt for their food during the night as well.
This bird's scientific name is Ardea herodias. Ardea is the latin word for heron. Herodias is the Greek word for heron. Hmm, it seems that a very uncreative ornithologist named this bird. Quite unlike the scientist Hentz who named the White Micrathena spider.
Great Blue Herons can live up to 23 years, but the average lifespan for most Blue Herons is 15 years. Unfortunately, a young heron only has about a 31% chance of living beyond their first year- that means that an incredible 69% of the Blue Herons die during that first year of life (source).