A few weeks ago we were walking past our neighborhood lake and saw two Great Blue Herons performing quite an elaborate dance. We stopped to watch, not completely sure what was happening. They flew in low circles around each other, flapping their long stretched-out wings. First one rising, then the other. Each time they landed, they clacked their long bills together. Then, the routine would start again. We tried to remain quiet, so as not to disturb them. My husband thought perhaps they were fighting or playing. But, it seemed too choreographed to be either of those. The movements were precise and intentional. Sure enough, Google says this is the typical mating ritual of herons.
It was an exquisite sight to behold–flashes of grey, white, dark and slatey-blue twirling round and round in certain pleasure and ritualized beauty. What a treat to witness nature going on and preparing for the future in the act of creation. With a lot of hope, I look forward to seeing the offspring of these mating herons later this year.*
These aren’t the best photos or video footage, I was using my iPhone at a distance. There are many great videos on the Internet of far better quality. Better yet, get outside and witness the amazing world of nature for yourself! It’s happening all around us!
*Because Great Blue Herons depend on wetlands for feeding and on relatively undisturbed sites for breeding, they are vulnerable to habitat loss and to impacts such as traffic, logging, motorboats, and other human intrusions that can disrupt nesting colonies. Other threats include chemical pollutants or other causes of reduced water quality. Although contaminant levels have declined in many areas, pollutants such as PCBs and DDT and newer types of industrial chemicals continue to affect heron habitats and can contribute to factors such as reduced nest site attendance. See more here at Cornell Lab of Ornithology.