Gopher Gone

It’s been three months since I’ve seen a Great Blue Heron at the park. This one may well have been the same one that stalked the park almost daily in late January. It certainly seemed familiar with the territory. A park visitor who approached too close chased it from one spot, but in its new spot on the other side of the same hill it quickly found what it was looking for. Its neck waved from side to side in anticipation, and then it pounced. It held the unlucky gopher in a vise grip around the neck. Half a dozen people had gathered to watch, cellphones out. The big bird didn’t feel like having its meal with an audience, so it took off in the direction of the boat basin. Some things are best done in private.

Great Blue Herons are only slightly taller than the all-white Great Egrets, but weigh about twice as much. That’s only about 4 1/2 lbs., surprisingly light when you consider the bulk of the bird. Most birds are lighter than they look because they have hollow bones, an adaptation for flight. The Great Blue, in turn, is only about half as heavy as the Goliath Heron, found in Africa.

Gophers do not have a large human fan base due to their destruction of gardens. They’re also not close with their own kind; social distancing is their normal life style. Wikipedia says:

Pocket gophers are solitary outside of the breeding season, aggressively maintaining territories that vary in size depending on the resources available. Males and females may share some burrows and nesting chambers if their territories border each other, but in general, each pocket gopher inhabits its own individual tunnel system. Although they attempt to flee when threatened, they may attack other animals, including cats and humans, and can inflict serious bites with their long, sharp teeth.

More about Great Blue Herons: Wikipedia Audubon Cornell Previous posts here about the Great Blue Heron.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

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4 thoughts on “Gopher Gone

  • Pingback: Great Blue at Low Tide

  • I have read somewhere, but can’t pinpoint the source at the moment, that they have sensors in their feet that pick up the vibrations of gopher paws scurrying in their underground tunnels.

  • How does the heron become aware of the gopher underground?

  • Pingback: Heron’s Breakfast

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