Great Blue Heron Bathing Beauty – Redux
Rubber Duckie you’re the one,
You make bathtime lots of fun,
Rubber Duckie I’m awfully fond of you
The Sesame Street Songbook
Paddling around the bend at the far end of the middle pond, I caught a glimpse of a Great Blue Heron lurking at the eastern end of the cove. Through the binoculars it looked like the Heron was in a territorial display, erect back feathers gleaming in the bright sun. My pulse quickened. It’s always exciting to capture a territorial encounter between two Herons with a camera.
The glare on the water made it difficult to be certain where the other bird was, and I needed to keep a good distance to not disturb their interaction. I was assuming that the territorial stance was directed at another bird, but try as I might, I couldn’t find any other Herons nearby. I followed the Heron’s gaze, looking for any antagonist in his line of sight, to no avail.
Confused about the Heron’s behavior, I decided to just bide my time, and settled the kayak along the opposite shore, downwind and hidden from view.
A few minutes passed, with the Heron still in a territorial pose.
A few more minutes, and suddenly the Heron immersed itself fully under the water. Then that stiletto bill broke the surface, and the Heron splashed up a froth of water.
The Heron was taking a bath!
In nearly a decade of watching Herons, this was only the second time I’d ever seen one bathing. I sat there mouth agape, watching and taking photographs as quickly as possible.
Great Blue Heron feathers fray and yet still retain their beauty. Frayed chest feathers are combed with a specially adapted claw, and a whitish powder down dusting protects the Heron from oils and surface scum from the water. After a Great Blue Heron takes a birdbath, a filmy white coating of powder down often remains behind floating on the water. You can see the white film coating the surface of the water in this next photo.
I stayed there sharing bath time with the Heron until an interloper in an inflatable boat flushed the Heron off, but even that couldn’t wipe the silly smile from my face. A Great Blue Heron taking a bath is an amusing sight to behold.
Herons aren’t necessarily known for being playful when they’re alone, but perhaps bath time is a playful exception. That’s my
story theory, and I’m sticking to it.
I can’t think of too many things more relaxing than a nice, long Saturday night bath. Unless its downloading photos of a Great Blue Heron taking a bath, all the whole humming the Rubber Ducky song to myself.
About today’s post: Today’s post is prompted by Debbie Smyth’s Six on Saturday, I.J.’s Bird of the Week, Jez’s Water Water Everywhere, plus the Lens Artists Art in the Park challenge.
Because of my near-blindness, I’m not able to link in my posts to the various host sites for WP challenges/tags in the way I have always done in the past, but please know that I value the sense of community here, especially among the Lens Artists, Cee Neuner, Debbie Smyth, Leanne Cole, BeckyB, Denzil, I.J., Restless Jo, Tofino Photography, Dan Antion, Bush Boy, Jez, and so many more, who all encourage the entire international network of photographers and writers. Sorry that I cannot link directly at this time – this is the best I can do for now.
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. The Summer Street Gallery provides an opportunity for accomplished visual artists in the region to have their work prominently displayed for TCAN’s diverse and loyal audience. If you’re in the Boston area, please stop by TCAN to see the wonderful gallery displays of artworks by many talented visual artists, as well as excellent live music performances and stage plays. The gallery is open whenever the box office is open, so please check hours here.
Art in the Park 2023 is coming: June 11 at Shaw Park!
Watch this space.
As always, many of my own photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.
Folks, now that some areas have opened back up in a new normal, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past THREE years and they still need your love more than ever.
The Natick Center Cultural District is situated in a friendly, classic New England town hosting a vibrant, contemporary fusion of art, culture and business. Click here and here to learn more!
My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.
TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick – One-woman photography show through February 2022
Natick Town Hall – Current group exhibit thru January 3 2023
Five Crows Gallery in Natick – Represented since 2013
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™
A Patience of Herons™
© 2003-2023 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)
Share the love, but please respect the copyright. No reposting of any photos without permission.
Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick Center Cultural District,
Posted on May 20, 2023, in # Lens-Artists, ardea herodias, Art, Birds, Mindfulness, Nature, Photography, Wildlife Photography and tagged # Lens-Artists, #6WS, #LAPC, 6WS, bird of the week, naturephotochallenge, WWE. Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.
Merci, Christine. ❤
Such a wonderful observation! How privileged you are. And what wonderful photos you have to show again! 🙏☀️🌹
Thank you so much for your kind compliment. I have indeed been fortunate that the Great Blue Herons allow me to witness their daily lives on the water. They have taught me quite a bit about Patience.
If I ever find my photos of a heron bathing, I know the behavior will look remarkably similar, even though the ‘bathtub’ mine had chosen was quite different: lots of low grasses, and no trees. That said, you’re right; watching behaviors like this is a lot of fun!
You’ll find them when you least expect and where you least expect to find them, I’m sure! My own images from the first bathing Heron were captured circa 2007, about 5 miles north of the ones in today’s post. I still remember that first time like it was just yesterday. Our “visual memory” can be such a joy. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!
Great captures Babsje! And a great opportunity.
Thanks so much, Anne. This was a very special encounter and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!
I too have not seen a Blue bathing but have seen Baldies bathing. They must be a shy lot.
I was surprised to find out a white powder is washed off the feathers.
right place, right time! Great shots Babsje!
Hi Wayne, thank you and yes, right place right time and WITH a camera. That white film left by the Heron would make for one heck of a bathtub ring! Do Eagles have anything similar in terms of downy chest feathers that fray?
they must but I do not know Babsje? I’ve seen Eagles bathing but never noticed any white particles in the water?
Well. Eagle chests are very dark, so I would expect any filmy exudate to be dark and not colored like that of the Herons? I dunno, though. It’s a mystery!
I can almost hear the instructor talking to that first heron: “Remember, wings extended and aligned, legs straight behind, and the toes, point the toes!” That last heron looks so proud of himself (herself?) for completing that bath.
Hi Susan – big smiles at your delightful comment! Written as though you either taught or studied ballet. Especially “…and the toes, point the toes!” I can just imagine a class of young Herons at the barre practicing positions under the watchful eyes of the instructor!
My husband has just come downstairs, fresh from the shower, Babsje. Not as impressive a sight as your heron, but he’s clean and happy. I’m the one wearing the idiot smile.
Hi Jo – and did he notice your “idiot smile?” And does he share his rubber duckie with you? What a sweet comment, thank you.
I have yet to see a heron bathing – that would be a treat. There was a cardinal bathing in our birdbath yesterday but that’s not as exciting! 🐦
Thanks Kerry! I’m so glad you enjoyed the Heron taking a bath! And from my perspective, seeing a Cardinal bathing would be a treat, too. I also have enjoyed watching small birds take dust baths in our driveway. I wonder if that feels at all like those dry shampoos? Remember them?
Gosh, I do remember them. They made my scalp itch and my dark hair look dusty! We see herons all the time at the pond across the street but not bathing just feeding.
Yeah, I agree with you about what those shampoos felt like. You’re fortunate to have Herons right across your street in that pond! I’ve only seen a Heron bathing on two occasions over 20 years – they’re pretty shy and elusive about their spa activity I guess!