Great Blue Heron in Warmer Days

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron in Warmer Days – babsjeheron

And when I’ve reached the end of my days, may I be found with a Great Blue Heron nest built within my ribcage.
With apologies to Robert Macfarlane
The Old Ways

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron has caught a small Pickerel after stalking it like a cat – babsjeheron.

(Frequent visitors to my blog know that some posts are Art-with-a-capital-A, some are more scientific, and some are my personal photojournalist observations from the field. This post is not capital-A-Art, although the Great Blue Herons, themselves, are decidedly works of art in and of themselves as far as I am concerned.)

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron about to strike – babsjeheron.

Have you ever watched a cat stalking something? You might have noticed the cat “triangulating” on the prey if the prey is still. Because cats can’t see motionless critters well (or perhaps at all), the cat will move in order to pinpoint the precise location where it needs to pounce.

And just before the cat pounces, you may notice that often the cat hunkers down, raising its butt while lowering its head, then shifting its weight on rear paws from side to side.

Great Blue Herons sometimes do that same maneuver before striking. As you can see in the animation here, the Heron’s head is very nearly motionless, while its neck and body sway from side to side as it fixes on the location of the Pickerel it is stalking. The Heron then lowered its head, raised its tail, and struck with lightning speed.

It was a lucky strike because, as the photo shows, the Heron just barely caught the Pickerel – the fish was easily a foot long, but the Heron only was able to grasp the end of the Pickerel’s snout. The Heron easily swallowed the Pickerel in one gulp. Happy Great Blue Heron!

I can remember the first time I observed a Heron stalking a fish using that cat-like sequence as though it was only yesterday. Watching through the binoculars, I saw the Heron sway from side to side, raise its butt, lower its head and then strike below the surface, and I broke into a big smile when I realized it was hunting just like my cat. Who knew?!


This post is prompted by Cee Neuner, Debbie Smyth, Jez Braithwaite, and the creative and inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Amy, Patti, and Leya, all of whom encourage the community of photographers and writers. Please click the links below to see the beautiful offerings from these wonderful photographers.

The focus for this week’s Lens Artist challenge hosted by Tina is “Interesting Architecture.” While photographing Herons in Boston one day, I captured the Museum of Science. From the vantage point of my kayak, the building looks very interesting, as though it has airplane propellers on the roof and the pilot is just waiting to hear the control tower declare “Museum, you are cleared for take off.”

Museum of Science, you are cleared for takeoff - babsjeheron  © Babsje (

Museum of Science, you are cleared for takeoff – babsjeheron


Thanks to Cee for her Hunt for joy. I don’t know if this challenge is still on, but I really like the idea of searching for joy. The Herons bring joy.
Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday. The title is the requisite six words long.

Thanks to Jez for the Water Water Everywhere Challenge. Quite a bit of water today.

From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 173: Interesting Architecture .
From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 172: A Day of My Week .

From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 173: Interesting Architecture .

From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 172: A Day of My Week .


Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and a half and they need your love more than ever.

Natick Center Cultural District logo

Natick Center Cultural District


The Natick Center Cultural District is situated in a friendly, classic New England town hosting a vibrant, contemporary fusion of art, culture and business. Learn more!

My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

Please watch this space for news of my upcoming Winter 2022 gallery show.

TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
Natick Town Hall
Five Crows Gallery in Natick
Audubon Sanctuary

Be a fly on the wall! Please CLICK HERE to see the Great Blue Herons gracing the gallery walls.


Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick

Posted on November 7, 2021, in # Lens-Artists, ardea herodias, Birds, Cats, Fishing, Heron, Nature, Photography, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 46 Comments.

  1. Dear Babsje,
    thanks for explaining the hunting behaviour of cats and herons. How perceive birds? From the set of their eyes I suppose they can’t see what is straight in front of their eyes.
    Wishing you a happy rest of the Sunday. With love from the rough sea
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • You’re welcome and thank you for your kind comment – your observation is very astute! The position of Heron’s eyes makes a big difference and I don’t think they have the same ability we humans have of moving our eyes without moving our heads that our eye muscles permit? I have read that Great Blue Herons have visual acuity similar to that of Eagles, though. I hope all the Fab Four of Cley enjoy the day and the start of the new week and that the rough seas calm quickly! All my best, with love to the Fab Four 🐦 🐦 🐦 🐦 Babsje

      • Dear Babsje,
        thanks a lot.
        We have to admit, we love it when the sea is rough, that’s the real sea for us.
        Wishing you a happy coming week full of happiness
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        • Ah thank you. It’s great to know the rough sea is pleasing. I happen to like paintings and photographs that show the often-beautiful fury of the sea. My best to all the Fab Four. Babsje

  2. That pike must be delicious! Great photos as usual, Babsje!

  3. LOL babsje – I kept wondering where the architecture would be in your post about herons and cats and their shared stalking behavior. And then as I came to the end of the post, VOILA! Thanks for the nod to us, as always! Loved the heron with pike image – great get!

    • Hi Tina. Giggling here at your great comment, thanks. Sometimes I wonder if people read all the way down in my long posts – and now I know! Your own post has so many amazing examples of incredible buildings. Really engaging topic you’ve chosen. Best, Babsje

  4. Babsje, thanks for all that you teach us, not only about cats and herons, but about how to be alert in the world. I am very glad, but not surprised to know you appreciate Robert Macfarlane.

    • Hi Gary. Many thanks for your kind, generous compliment. I am glad, to know that you, also, appreciate Robert Macfarlane. What a writer. I don’t know anyone else acquainted with his work now that I think of it, except for the two of us. Best, Babsje

  5. I have seen Herons doing their stalking dance many times Babsje! I have learned it is the only time one can slowly approach a Heron to get a closer picture!
    I looked at the fish it caught and was fairly certain it was not a Pike? I thought It was a type of Gar but in searching came across the culprit! It’s a “Chain Pickerel”.
    Which I have never seen or heard of before? It doesn’t look like like any Pickerel I’ve ever seen? I’ve fished many a Pike in my time and knew It wasn’t a Pike right away.
    The Heron doesn’t care what kind of fish it is, just as long as It gets a full belly!

    • Hi Wayne. There you go being right again! Many thanks for your great comment correcting my error. A Chain Pickerel it is! Thanks for the link. I blame my bad eyesight – and you’re right, the Herons don’t care what kind of fish as long as it fills their bellies. Cool that you’ve observed that Heron stalking dance – it’s a dead giveaway that the bird is about to pounce. And that gives a photographer a chance to line up the next shot. Win-win. The Heron and photographer both get their catch. Best, Babsje

  6. As a cat owner, I’m very familiar with the stalk you describe, but I didn’t know birds did it, too. The heron, of course, has the additional problem of refraction in the water. I guess they’ve learned how to allow for that or they’d never catch anything. I love the first pic where the heron looks more lilac than blue.

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. That maneuver seems pretty universal in cats. I’d love to see it by a big cat – say a Leopard or Cheetah. The Great Blue Heron here was the first I’d seen it done by a bird. You’re probably right about refraction and I bet that hunkering down low before pouncing helps with that for the Herons. I’m glad you like that top photo. Heron feathers aren’t actually blue – and it makes sense that they can appear as lilac or lavender or grey. The blue perception is from refraction. But I wonder about the European Grey Herons, which always look grey, and why the refraction trick doesn’t make them look blue, as well? Thanks again for your great comment. Best, Babsje

  7. Brilliant close up of that heron. 😀 😀

    • Hi Cee. Thanks very much for your kind compliment. I see you have an upcoming challenge around the color Blue. Really looking forward to that topic. 😊 Best, Babsje

  8. Another beautiful series!

  9. That’s amazing that Heron “butt shoogle”, as we call it, when about to strike 👏 Fantastic post, Babsje 😃

  10. Such a wonderful shade of blue in the first shot. And the second is a great capture with the fish!

  11. I loved the animation, Babsje!

    • Thanks so much for saying that! It was fun building the animation. I guess real video would be better. Maybe I’ll look into into that for next summer. Thanks for your kind comment. Best, Babsje

  12. Ha! How nice of you to slip in a building!! 😉 😉

    • Chuckling here, thanks for your great comment, John. It was a test to see if anyone actually reads the whole post – not really but sometimes I do wonder. I actually had lost vision in my left eye the day before writing that post and couldn’t see well enough to produce any new photos so grabbed from the archives. Surgery is thus Thursday and maybe I’ll find some new interesting buildings to make up for it! 😊 Best, Babsje

  13. That’s a very cool and interesting animation, Babsje. Thanks for sharing!

  14. I’m sure it takes extra patience and a long time to get a picture like that.
    You are really amazing. Describe the behavior of a stork with a cat.

  15. I must agree with Tina, Babsje! 😀

  16. Wow! Excellent photos of Heron with beautiful descriptions! Thank you for sharing 🎉🙂👍

  17. Reigers zijn goede vissers. Ze staan volledig stil langs de kant. Komt er wat lekkers langs dan werkt hun puntige bek als een dolk.

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