He Got To Keep This One

Over the weekend we were watching this great blue heron fishing in the salt marsh. Unfortunately for him there were also several pelicans fishing in the same area. The pelicans will interrupt their own fishing if they see a heron or egret catch a fish and they will jump them to try to take it away. As you can see in the last photo, which was taken the day before, that GBH was forced to flee and lost his fish to the pelican! It’s hard to see the fish in the mud but it’s there. I’m not quite sure why the blue herons and egrets allow the pelicans to get away with this thieving behavior. I would think that a well placed peck to the head of a pelican by a bird like a great blue heron would send a strong message. I know I would not want one to be mad at me and decide to give me a shot with that powerful pointed beak.

The good news for the great blue heron in these photos is that he got to keep his fish…so the pelicans don’t always get their way and the other bird’s fish! 

GBH Fishing in the Salt Marsh

GBH Fishing in the Salt Marsh

GBH Fishing in the Salt Marsh

GBH Fishing in the Salt Marsh

GBH Fishing in the Salt Marsh with Pelican

54 thoughts on “He Got To Keep This One

  1. It looks like he speared that one, rather than the usual pinch. I’ve probably said it before, but I love the detail in your images. So much to learn about these wonderful critters… Thanks for sharing!

    • Yes he did indeed spear that fish. I think that depending on where they spear the fish it can cause instant paralysis in the fish so the bird can handle it easier. Of course once a fish is stuck on the bird’s bill they need to get it off in order to swallow it. This is the time frame that allows other birds such as the pelican to potentailly grab the fish away before the heron has a chance to get it down.
      Thanks you very much for looking and I appreciate your kind comments!

    • Thanks a million Gracie, so glad you like these photos!
      Yes he sure did spear that fish, it is not at all uncommon for herons and egrets to use that technique, especially considering they have those powerful, sharp bills.

  2. Yeah very interesting that the pelican is the bully in this situation. I would not have guessed that! Great work!

    • I have been seeing this quite often lately where the pelicans are getting very aggressive around feeding areas. Considering this marsh is right next to the ocean you would think they could fish there as well but maybe they find it easier to do in calm water. I’m also surprised a large bird like a GBH let’s them get away with it.
      Thanks for checking out these photos!

  3. I thought that the fish between his beaks but as I see right he use his beak like an arrow, isn’t it? Every time you made great shots dear Phil, these are amazing and so beautiful. Thank you, love, nia

  4. I LOVE these closeup photos of the heron! It’s one of the birds I look forward to seeing when we visit the local bird refuge.
    These photos are so crisp and clear! You must have some really nice camera equipment to go along with your expert photography skills.

  5. Pingback: Patience barely rewarded | Mike Powell

  6. When I look at your photos I get discouraged; these words come to my mind: “It has been done.” This is a compliment an a total truth. I get the exhilaration of watching a superbly perfect, beautiful photo and I also get the sense that I will never approach that technique and passion. It is both good and bad for my spirit. I will make it a goal to at least follow regularly and come back to see more of the action of beautiful wildlife through your lens. I am trying to acquire an L lens and practicing with what I have in the hope that some day i will have the luck to achieve ONE picture that can be similar in sharpness and beauty. What can one say?

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