Great Blue Heron Stories

I still remember the first time I saw one

A pair of Great Blue Herons landing in a tree. Photo taken by the author’s husband.

I grew up in Vernal, Utah, next to a creek. My sister and I spent hours playing in the creek with our nieces and nephews. We were out there year-round, as long as the weather was nice.

One day, I remember seeing a huge, blue-gray bird taking flight from the creekbed when we arrived. Its wing-beats were slow and the bird’s long legs were trailing behind.

We stopped and stared in awe.

We were with my older brother and he told us it was called a Great Blue Heron.

That is my first memory of that bird and to this day I feel lucky whenever I get to see one. I work next to a lake with a large wetland area, so I do get to see them once in a while.

They take off pretty quickly once they realize people are close to them. One time I was on a birdwatching walk and we got to walk past one that stayed where it was. It was fun to have a close look that wasn’t through a camera lens.

Great Blue Herons eat fish, frogs, and other small aquatic creatures. They choose a spot to wade in shallow water, then they freeze. They stare down into the water, then, when something swims by, they grab it with lightning speed. These birds seem to have all the patience in the world.

The koi pond

I used to work with someone who had recently added a koi pond to his back yard. He noticed his expensive fish were disappearing and had no idea where they were going. According to, “pond-quality” koi can cost anywhere from $10-$100 each.

My coworker was really irritated once he figured out what was happening.

A Great Blue Heron was visiting his back yard and eating his fish! To the bird, that back yard was an awesome place to find dinner. My coworker was losing all of his fish to the Great Blue Heron, so he didn’t think it was so great.

I don’t know how much he spent on his koi, but even at $10 each, that’s an expensive dinner for a bird!

The fish hatchery

A few years ago, my husband worked at a fish hatchery where they raised several varieties of trout. One day he saw a Great Blue Heron standing in the raceway (a series of waterways for the fish) gulping down as many trout as it could before he got too close and it flew away.

The herons couldn’t always access the raceway area, but when the gate was open, they knew they could get inside and eat their fill.

I love seeing Great Blue Herons. I think they are graceful, smart, resourceful birds that won’t turn down a meal of fresh fish, even if they find it in someone’s back yard!

I write about the outdoors, my dogs, and everyday life. I own a small soap making business and I work outside. Twitter: @kimclawson2

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