Beautiful Great Blue Heron’s Alluring Lure (Not Art Nbr 25)

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron Fishes with Feather – babsjeheron

A recent news piece about dolphins using tools to catch fish brought to mind first-hand experience witnessing Great Blue Herons fishing with tools of their own.

At first, the Heron brandishing a feather in the top photo in this post looked playful, but then I realized the seagull feather was not a mere toy to this Great Blue Heron – it was a tool, a fishing lure she repeatedly dipped into the water to entice fishes up to the surface, making it easier for her to spear them with her stiletto beak.

Transfixed, I watched her repeat this for more than ten minutes. It looked almost ritualistic – totemic or shamanic even – to see a feathered creature brandishing a feather from a different bird in such repetitive behavior.

And then it dawned on me.

Before she first picked up the feather, she had been fishing, staring intently into the water as though tracking a fish, from the half-submerged pine trunk.

And once she picked up the feather, she continued her fishing – using the feather as bait to attract her prey, the fish.

How smart a bird and how alluring a lure she chose.



This post is dedicated to the Lens Artist ladies (Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya) and to Cee Neuner, all of whom encourage and inspire.

This week, the Lens Artists focus on Surprise. What a surprise it was to realize the Heron was using that feather as a fishing lure.

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 103: Surprise .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 103: Surprise .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 103: Surprise .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 103: Surprise .

Thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy.

From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs were once again on display on the walls of the lobby and theater in a free one-woman show at the Summer Street Gallery, of The Center for Arts in Natick.

Many of the photos in the exhibit were shown for the first time, and do not appear on the blog. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.

Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is. And the Herons? Their place is near the water, but also on the gallery walls and my blog. How else can I share them with you?

Thanks also to Ben H and WordPress for their WPC Challenge: Liquid. The Herons are drawn to water, as am I.

During September and October, 2018, the Great Blue Herons were featured on the walls of the Natick Town Hall, located at 13 East Central Street in Natick, MA.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2020 Babsje. (

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick

Posted on July 3, 2020, in ardea herodias, Art, Birds, Fine art, Fishing, Great Blue Heron, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. That’s really amazing Babsje and beautifully captured!

  2. What a wonderful shot. 😊💙

  3. Babsje, thank you for your patient observations and what they teach us through you and your lens.

    • Hi Gary. Thanks so much for your thoughtful observation. Always good to hear from you. Looking forward to reading your sea kayaking stories. Best, Babsje

  4. What a great picture, I never knew herons were so ingenious when it came to catching fish! Thanks for sharing such an interesting post. 😊

    • Hi Sylvia. Thanks for your kind words. They are indeed very resourceful. I’ve seen one other Great Blue Heron use a tool to catch fish, in that case a stick. There are videos on the net of a Green Heron using pieces of bread to lure and catch fish, as well. Best, Babsje

  5. Ha! Unique. Who said they are bird-brained?! Well done.

  6. I so wanted you to say that the heron had the feather to write with! But clearly, the bird knows what the feather’s best use is for her. 🙂

  7. What a delight to see this and figure it out! Very sensuous shot of the Great Blue, too!

  8. Wat zijn het toch prachtige vogels.Ik zie en fotografeer ze hier ook heel vaak.

    • I’m happy that you think the Herons are beautiful and you’re fortunate to be able to photograph them, too. Many thanks for your kind comment. Best, Babsje

  9. Awesome capture,Babsje and an interesting read.

    • Many thanks for your kind comment Paula. That was a special moment with that heron. I’ve also observed a different heron doing similar fishing with an improvised tool. Best, Babsje

  10. The avian equivalent of flyfishing. 🙂

  1. Pingback: Pandemic Therapy: Fieldwork « elizabeth winpenny lawson …writing as a naturalist

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