His Silence Speaks: A Poem about the Great Blue Heron
The Beauty of Western Washington, Fox Island, and the Great Blue Heron
I live in western Washington, God's country, filled with forests of evergreens, the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges and the Puget Sound which wends its way through the region. The mountain called Rainier fills the sky as a monument. It's breathtaking. There are many islands in the region.
I used to work on Fox Island near Gig Harbor, and I would often stand and watch in silence in the early morning from the breakfast nook as a lone Heron stood in the water for an hour, sometimes longer. That hour always felt scared to me and I was in awe. Then suddenly he would fly away. I will have more to say about them following the poem. The poem talks about how I see them in their time of quiet on the shore.
His Silence Speaks
Morning is hush,
the tide is out,
a slight haze hovers over the water.
A Great Blue Heron wades
in the shallows of the bay,
strong, stoic, still.
He keeps vigil over the mountain
in the distance like a sentry on watch.
A keening gull circles scouting breakfast.
The Heron remains motionless, contemplative;
His silence speaks.
The noisy gull now understands
the morning is sacrosanct
due its honor because of its splendor.
But he is impatient and flies away.
An hour has passed,
The Heron remains in place
basking in the warmth of the sun.
His silence speaks
"O blessed morn,'"
then it is time.
He lifts off into the air,
his majestic wings
flap in slow motion.
He takes his time
for the morning is still sacred,
and he must not disturb it,
For it belongs to the Lord
whose silence speaks.
Description of the Great Blue Heron
After I wrote this poem I did some research on this beautiful creature called the Great Blue Heron.
The Great Blue Heron is categorized as a bird. He stands between three and five feet tall with a wingspan between six and a half to nearly eight feet. They weigh between four and a half to seven pounds, which I find a bit surprising because of their massive wings. The Great Blue Heron is the largest of all herons in America. Their long necks are S-shaped. Their beaks are long and narrow. To me, their heads and beaks look similar to the flower Bird of Paradise.
This bird is of a blue-gray color on its body. When in flight the wings are softer gray and the tips are dark blue-gray. Their bills are long, slender, and sharp (good for fishing) and are orange or dark colored. Their small head is black with a white stripe running through the middle and a long wispy feather falls down the back of its head.
The Great Blue Heron is found in the northern U.S. and the Pacific coast on up into Alaska. East of the Rocky mountains they tend to be migratory, going to the Caribbean and South America.
Typically, Great Blue Herons are wading birds and live near fresh or salt water. You will find them in tideflats, marshes, ponds, lakes, rivers, the coastline, and here in Washington, on the Puget Sound, a saltwater bay. They have been known to wander into backyards with ponds with fish in them.
They build nests high in the trees and breed in colonies. The male chooses the nest site. They are constructed of sticks. The male brings the materials and the female mostly builds the nest. "Heronries" is another term for their colonies. Sometimes they make their homes with other wading birds. 1
The reason Great Blue Herons wade is not because they are standing sentinel over a beautiful mountain as I spoke of in my poem, but are actually scoping and stalking fish. They do this in grasslands as well, foraging for small critters such as voles, mice, insects, snakes, smaller birds, lizards, and other small critters.
When they find something to their liking they thrust their long neck lighting fast and spear their prey and eat.
The Great Blue Heron female lays between three to five eggs. Incubation is between twenty-five to thirty days. Both parents nest. Both parents also feed their young by regurgitation.
The young birds are able to fly at sixty days and leave five to ten days later. Most Great Blue Heron have one brood a year. 1
The Great Blue Heron is such a magnificent creature and one that I connect with. When I watch them wading or flying I see that God has created yet another wonder. I hope you enjoyed learning about them as I have.
1Audubon Guide to North American Birds, Great Blue Heron. https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/great-blue-heron
Questions & Answers
Do you know if Herons inhabit PA? I think they are fascinating creatures.
Yes, they do. Where ever there is water nearby. They have even been known to wander into yards with fish ponds and such. They also hang out in tall grassy areas foraging for rodents and other small water animals like baby ducks. But the land part is always near the water somewhere. They are magnificent creatures. I have a friend who is a professional photographer, and she got some incredible shots of herons playing and vying for food. It is breathtaking to see them fly. Photos don't do them justice.Helpful 1
© 2019 Lori Colbo