Unexpected Predator June 4, 2012
For years we enjoyed the native wildlife that was attracted to the pond on our property. One year a gorgeous Great Blue Heron male began frequenting the property. He would show up early in the morning or late in the evening to fish. The bird was used to humans, it appeared, because we could sit on the far edge of the pond and watch him without him taking off.
Last summer, I had an eye opening experience with our visitor. Our duck, Charlotte, had hatched a clutch of ducklings unexpectedly. My husband was able to count 6 while out fishing one morning. The next day he only saw 5. By the third day I could only see 4. With numbers dwindling so fast, I had a feeling someone was helping themselves to ducklings for breakfast. We set out to catch the remaining ducklings to raise in a spare pen until they were larger, thinking we’d release them back with their mother in a month or so. Catching the duckings turned out to be a fruitless venture. Nearly a week later we were down to 2 ducklings.
Saturday morning of the following week our family decided to have a yard sale and we noticed that mama brought the last baby up on the bank of the pond. We saw an opportunity to round it up. While collecting a net from the back porch we were awe struck to witness the Great Blue Heron walk up the bank and begin chasing the mother and duckling around a tree. Before I could take in what I was seeing the Heron scooped up the duckling in his beak, swung it around a few times and flew off across the pond duckling in mouth. Mama stood on the bank squawking helplessly!
It never occurred to me that such a majestic bird I had only seen eating fish could have been a threat to my flock. To this day, I see him nosing around my chicken pens, especially when my hens are raising chicks. I am extra careful if the chicks are having an outing in the yard that I am there and the heron is not visiting that day!