Great Blue Heron
I took this photo at the Merritt Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Titusville, Florida. This heron was busily fishing and didn't seem to be concerned that I was taking photo after photo.
The scientific name of the great blue heron is Ardea herodias and is the most common and largest of North American herons. They are waders, typically seen along coastlines, in marshes, or near the shores of ponds or streams. Expert fishers, they snare their prey by walking slowly, or standing still for long periods of time and waiting for fish to come within range of their long necks and blade-like bills. They deliver a deathblow with that sharp beak and swallow the fish whole, though they've been known to choke to death by attempting to swallow fish too large.
To me, it's a thrill to see a great blue in flight. Rather awkward and stiff when walking, their flight is graceful. They have huge wingspans (5.5 to 6.6 feet) and are 3.2 to 4.5 feet tall. They can cruise at some 20 to 30 miles an hour. For that size, they can fly up to 20 miles per hour.
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