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Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

This is the familiar, large grayishblue heron seen wading in shallow water in marshes, ponds and along lakeshores and stream edges. They are sometimes confused with the sandhill crane; the heron is smaller and flies with its neck folded back, while cranes fly with their neck extended. Great blue herons are commonly seen in small suburban wetlands (cranes are generally less tolerant of close presence). Herons feed on fish, frogs, and other small animals, captured by a quick jab of the beak. They nest in colonies, usually building their stick platform nests in trees in lowland hardwood swamps. In recent years many rookeries have been displaced by shoreline development or timber cutting. Every attempt must be made to preserve known nesting sites if these beautiful birds are to remain common in Michigan's wetlands.