Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mommy -a bird ate Mr. Grumbles!


Animal Catharsis     

Published on Jul 6, 2013 Ever wonder why fish-eating herons and egrets are often seen standing in fields? This video provides some clues. This Great Blue Heron caught and killed four gophers in a row without a miss! Two gophers were swallowed and two were left uneaten. The first gopher was quite large and took some effort and lubrication from a water puddle to swallow. Herons have been known to choke to death while trying to swallow large prey, but not this time. A few days earlier, I was fortunate to film a much smaller sized egret catching a large gopher and struggling for about 9 minutes to swallow it! This video is at I was amazed that the egret's skinny neck could eventually stretch enough to pass the large gopher!

I was surprised to see the heron continue to hunt and kill more gophers than it ate. I suspect that it enjoyed hunting for fun as well as for food. I filmed the heron for about 90 minutes in the late afternoon. I don't know how many gophers the heron may have caught before I arrived at the scene.

The heron struck the gophers so hard that they appeared to die very quickly after the first blow. Gopher #4 was struck only once; and then it was quickly dropped to the ground. The heron watched it for about 15 minutes, as if to see if it moved, and then walked away without eating the dead gopher. The heron appeared to continue to hunt for more gophers as darkness fell. I got cold and went home.

This heron could easily get a job in backyards plagued with gophers!

I filmed this event on March 17, 2012 at Miller Knox Regional Park in Pt. Richmond, CA, along the San Francisco Bay Trail after several days of heavy rains. The gophers on this fateful day may have been more vulnerable than usual due to partial flooding of their burrows after the recent rains. I used a Panasonic GH2 camera to capture the footage.

If you have issues with gophers damaging your garden or landscape, don't you wish you could rent a Great Blue Heron like this one for a few days?

I recently found this amazing video of a falcon dive-bombing and killing a Great Blue Heron--far more than it could eat! Check it out at The very end of the video shows the falcon feeding on the heron close-up.

Here is a video I made about a gopher that DID get away:

Amazing ... we have a decent Blue Heron population here, but I had no idea that, and never saw, that they anything other than fish. Who knew they killed for sport?


Chris in NC said...

About half way through my quarter mile driveway is a pond with a heron whom we call Kehaar (watership down bird). He walks through the water nabbing what ever he can get. He flies away when we come down the hill and it is awesome to see. Very cool birds.

Esteve said...

Just a couple of weeks ago I watched a Sandhill crane kill and eat something large and furry. He would stab it and shake it until chunks of flesh were small enough to swallow. I had no idea they were carnivores.

USMC2841 said...

Carl Spackler eat your heart out.

Anonymous said...

My German Shepard Dog would listen for them digging then patiently wait for them to stick head out. Then snatch and flip it in air, then chop, swallow . rid backyard of gophers.

TimO said...

They love to prey on our baby ducklings, too...

Post a Comment

Just type your name and post as anonymous if you don't have a Blogger profile.