Great Blue Heron Territorial Displays

When the eagles have followed the tide so far out that it’s impossible to get any more good pictures, I’ve learned to retreat to Seabeck where some areas are affected later by the tide. There’s one particularly good area where there’s a “mound” in the water where the sculpin seem to get trapped. No surprise that it’s a hotly contested area.

The first bird to claim the area when I was there was a large Great Blue Heron, which would even stand its ground against the Bald Eagles, at least for a while. So, it’s no surprise that it would also protect the mound from other Great Blue Herons. What was surprising, at least to me, was how the heron protected it.

I’ve seen herons strut around with wings fully extended in disputes, but I’ve never seen this kind of display before, though it seems to be a common territorial display.

When another heron approached the mound from the other side, this heron strutted all the way across the mound very slowly with the fringe feathers “bristling.”

 Great Blue Heron Territorial display

After carefully crossing the entire mound, the heron than slowly, headed back to where the intruder was.

Great Blue Heron Territorial display

Meanwhile the intruder also bristled and seemed to try to stretch out so that it was taller than the heron defending its territory.

 Great Blue Heron Territorial display

No blows were struck, but the intruder eventually moved to the other side of the mound and into the deeper water, and that seemed to satisfy the heron that had been their first. Of course, it wasn’t long before an immature eagle appeared and claimed the island for himself.

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