Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias

Ross G. Vennesland and Robert W. Butler
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated April 28, 2011


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Distribution of the Great Blue Heron
Fig. 3. Annual cycle of breeding, molt, and migration of Great Blue Herons in British Columbia.

Coastal populations are non-migratory. Thick lines equal peak activity, thin lines off peak.

Figure 1. Breeding, nonbreeding, and year-round ranges of the Great Blue Heron.

The species (A. herodias) is rare in winter in the northern parts of its range.

Figure 5. Winter density of Great Blue Herons, as determined by data from the Christmas Bird Count in 2003.

Numbers show the number of individuals counted per 100 party hours in each region with CBC count circles.

Fig. 2. Breeding displays of the Great Blue Heron.

(A) Forward display; (B) Stretch; (C) Bill duel. By D. Otte, from Mock (1976).

Fig. 4. Most Great Blue Herons nest in colonies.

Drawing by J. Zickefoose.

Figure 6. Relative abundance of Great Blue Herons in the USA and s. Canada,1994-2003.

Early summer distribution, based on data from the Breeding Bird Survey. From Sauer et al. 2008.

Figure 7. Trends in Great Blue Heron populations, USA and s. Canada, 1966-2003.

Based on data from the Breeding Bird Survey. From Sauer et al. 2008.

Recommended Citation

Vennesland, R. G. and R. W. Butler (2020). Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.grbher3.01