Great Blue Heron Mating Habits

••• rancho_runner/iStock/GettyImages

Great blue herons stand almost 4 feet tall and have a 6-foot wingspan. These impressive birds winter across the United States and into South America. Breeding occurs in early spring in Canada and the northern United States. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of great blue heron courtship rituals are their complex displays.

Breeding Colonies

Great blue herons are typically not social creatures. Due to their need for a large amount of food, they prefer to keep a large territory for themselves. As breeding season commences, however, they begin to gather in colonies ranging from just a few to hundreds of birds. According to the University of Massachusetts, the colonies congregate in forested wetlands or on islands with trees.

Displays

Great blue herons don't mate for life, but they do have elaborate courtship rituals that help pairs form strong bonds. Their mating displays include bill snapping, neck stretching, moaning calls, preening, circular flights, twig shaking, twig exchanging, crest raising and even bill duels. Scuffles over females are common, but never end in death. Once their complex dance is finished, the male and the female heron will have the strong bond necessary to raise their hatchlings together.

Nesting

Males choose nesting sites and supply females with the materials to build the nest. Nests are large, 3 three wide by 3 feet high, and are built high in trees to keep them safe from predators. Herons build their nests in about a week, but construction continues throughout incubation and after the eggs have hatched. Eggs are incubated for about 28 days; both partners share in the duties of incubation and care of hatchlings.

Related Articles

The Differences Between Male & Female Blue Herons
Lifespan of the Great Blue Heron
How Do Alligators Mate?
How Do Peacocks Mate?
How to Tell a Male From a Female Blue Jay
How to Tell a Male From a Female Mocking Bird
Nesting Habits of Doves
Life Cycle of a Peacock
Information on the Cardinal Bird
How Do I Know When My Zebra Finch Bird Is Pregnant?
Facts About Buzzards
Information on the Georgia Giant Bobwhite Quail
Characteristics Of Doves
The Differences Between Male & Female Blue Herons
Life Cycle of the Lion
Which Birds Make Their Nests on the Ground?
Life Cycle of Ducks
What Do Rosellas Eat?
How to Differentiate Between a Male & Female Sparrow
How Do Buzzards Nest?

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!