Great Blue in the Sun

Great blue heron sunning.
Great blue heron sunning.


It has been hot, very hot! So why is this great blue heron (GBH) sunning?

At the time the photos here were taken (about 4:40 PM) the sun was still fairly high in the sky. The temperature was in the 90s. The rock the heron was standing on had been in the sun approximately 7 hours (had to be very warm!), and the sun was bouncing off the water’s surface like it was a giant suntan reflector. The heron was panting, it’s bill agape and its gular pouch vibrating.

Personally, I would seek shade in such a situation. But I’m not a heron.


Striking a pose into the sun.
Striking a pose into the sun.


I’ve never witnessed any other heron species posing in this manner, although I’ve seen photos of others doing so. Considering the large number of photos of GBHs photographed in this pose, it seems they are the species, at least in North America, most often observed behaving this way.

Perhaps the heron is attempting to rid itself of parasites, drying its wings, or even straightening the flight feathers. Maybe it’s all of the above. But, as I’ve said in the past on this blog, about this very subject, it may simply feel good to the heron. Apparently, some like it hot!

3 responses to Great Blue in the Sun

  1. Elena says:

    I just saw one today standing in this exact pose in the 100 F at the South Padre Island, TX.

  2. I have never seen one in that position either. I guess if you watch them long enough you might see about anything but usually about same poses though. I got a photo of a heron scratching his neck with his foot which I was amazed at.

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