Great Blue Heron

The “silent stalker” of Iowa’s wetlands, the Great Blue Heron is the largest heron in North America. These tall birds are often seen standing still as statues along the water’s edge, waiting for a small fish to swim by. Great Blue Herons are colonial nesters, building nests in trees in small groups near water.

More information

See the Great Blue Heron's profile on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.

Photo credits

Cover photo: By Nicole Monteregina via Flickr

Collage Photo (above): By Richard Crossley (Richard Crossley) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Poem

THE GREAT
I see you.
Lifting from the marshy area,
wings outstretched
pumping the air to lift your body
to the sky.
I pause to watch.
It's simply another moment in time.
A moment to lose myself in your beauty.

THE GREAT BLUE HERON

silently strokes the air
swims above the river
then fixes his wings
like a giant kite

settles
upon a supple branch
floats down

a single feather
to equilibrium
still life
a Japanese print

While it was still winter, the day warmed like a memory of a crisp spring day. I found myself searching for the gathering of bald eagles at Lake Red Rock, on a back road below the dam. To my surprise out the corner of my eye I spot a hint of color in a cove not many dared to go that time of year. A long neck, attentive eyes seeking fish along the melted Waters edge. Time stood still as I watched him. He was smaller than I knew them to be. He struggled near the edge finding his meal. Out of a pile of tiny limbs two larger herons swiftly padded around him, almost, as if to say.... enough of people watching, we have what you need behind the shelter, come with us. The larger herons glanced my way and paused briefly as if they too had not seen humans in months. I was awe struck by their color on a day in that cove with little other color around other than the winters harsh remains. As I watched them all pad off to get out of the chilly wind I wondered how their tiny thin legs were not as icy as mine. Their posture so erect and willingness to brave the lakes mean breeze. Thus grew my interest to seek them out and capture that eye contact again. I'll never forget how striking they looked on that cove, basking in the sun and utlizing winters remains happily.

Bike ride with a Heron

I was on I-80
In Wiota, Iowa
I thought I ought to
Stop in Wiota
And stretch my legs
With a ride on my bike.

So I went for a ride
Right beside
Turkey creek
But no turkeys
As I stretched my legs
With a ride on my bike.

But then there beside me
Right along biding me
Was a Great Blue Heron
Flying down Turkey on
as I stretched my legs
with a ride on my bike.

We went the same pace
Neither losing face
By slowing or gaining
But both retaining
as I stretched my legs
with a ride on my bike.

It was synchronicity
It was serendipity
It was fluid and grace
It was time and space
as I stretched my legs
with a ride on my bike.

I’ll never forget
I was an egret
When I was here on
Wiota’s Blue Heron
as I stretched my legs
with a ride on my bike.

HUNTER

the heron bends low
waiting for a frog to call
to have the last word

LIMINALITY
Caught the train in Croton-on-Hudson
always by the stretch of my long legs
in those days before life shattered,
a split second before the doors slid shut.

On a good day, a window seat.
Headphones on, New Yorker open, knitting in hands
as soon as we moved
I kept my eyes
on the river’s edge
as if I stared at the space where a lover had been.

Great blue heron, like a gorgeous umbrella
alone
feet in the earth, legs stroked by water, wings ready for air
A good day, I thought, even before
I needed lucky omens
to survive collapse.

GREAT BLUE HERON

blue sliver
now wide-winging in—
gangly spread swirl—
settling to stand, wade,
lake ripples quieting…
surely we would have missed you,
would have thought you…
a shoreline branch?
had we not witnessed
your evening arrival
in the fading light…
shadowy blue