Heron & Hawk’s Most Excellent Hair Raising Adventure — Weekly Writing Challenge: The Best Medicine

The ducks clamored furiously but as far as I could tell, no ducks were harmed in the making of this story.

The raptor swooped low across the secluded cove while the yearling great blue heron was fishing far out in the middle, where he was exposed and vulnerable to danger.

I didn’t see the incoming bird at all – my eye was glued to the camera’s viewfinder – and the first sign that something was about to happen was the heron’s cap feathers erecting suddenly. His neck feathers erected simultaneously, making his neck grow to three times it’s usual size. One second he looked normal and literally the next, he had fluffed up the way an alarmed cat’s tail expands to five times normal size.

 © Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com) Great blue heron reacts with erect cap feathers when dive-bombed by a hawk.

Great blue heron reacts with erect cap feathers when buzzed by a hawk. The heron does look a bit comical here,  doesn’t he? 

Only after noticing his shock of feathers did I see the blurry form cross in front of us, swooping a couple feet above the surface.

The ducks in the cove clamored furiously, and the jays squawked, but as far as I could tell, no ducks or jays were harmed, and the danger passed.

After the blurry raptor whizzed past us, the yearling returned to his fishing and I to the camera.

Then just three minutes later, the same thing happened again – through the camera, I noticed another incredible expansion of the heron’s neck feathers. This time, I fired off the shutter as fast as possible. I captured three or four frames of the heron with his huge puffed up neck and raised crest feathers, and in one, there’s a brown and white blur zooming close by the heron, the hawk on her return down the cove.

Although his behavior was typical of being startled – expanding his feathers to make himself appear larger and more threatening to an adversary – he didn’t show any other outward signs of fear, and made no attempt to flee when the hawk buzzed by him. 

Hawks and herons are both territorial, yet those two birds both seem to share the cove, an odd yet peaceable coexistence for two predators. That’s just supposition on my part, and it makes me wonder even more about the behavior of wild things at the lake when there are no humans around.

(As an aside, for people who have been following my blog, this is the same great blue heron featured in Wherein He Gets the Girl, the same male building the nest in Our Love must be Some Kind of Blind Love)

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Thanks for the Weekly Writing Challenge nudge, Michelle W and WordPress!
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This took place August 21, 2010)

© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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Posted on July 8, 2013, in ardea herodias, Bird photography, Birds, daily prompt, DPchallenge, Great Blue Heron, Humor, Nature, Photography, postaday, Weekly Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Congratulation for this shot ! Great!

  2. marvellous! well captured 🙂

  3. Great story and pix. Love the elegance of both birds. We get several hawks our way as they follow the rabbits who do replicate. But the beauty of a Blue Heron is breathtaking. Thanks for sharing and following my blog. Take care, BTG

    • You’re welcome, and thanks for your kind words here. I agree, both hawks and herons have a beauty all their own, but the herons are majestic creatures.

  4. I have a special friend who sits on a pole on the beach outside my house. He is a heron and knows how special he is. Loved the story.

  5. Great observations, looking forward to more from your blog…

  6. Wonderful photo and I enjoyed your descriptive writing too. 🙂

    • Thanks for this kind comment! It was quite an experience, I had no idea the hawk would try to buzz the heron – there’s quite a difference in size.

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