Nature, Red in Tooth and Claw and Beak

January 7, 2014

Great blue heron swallowing a fish

Great blue heron swallowing a fish

Nature writer John Burroughs often talks about the rewards inherent in observing nature right where you are, watching the “procession pass” like a “revolving showcase.”  Even walking the same terrain yields unexpected gifts, exemplifying the old adage that you cannot step into the same river twice:

” . . . the place to observe nature is where you are; the walk to take to-day is the walk you took yesterday. . . . I shall probably never see another just such day as yesterday was, because one can never exactly repeat his observation, — cannot turn the leaf of life backward, — and because each day has characteristics of its own.”
— John Burroughs, from “A Sharp Lookout”

As I’ve been making my daily run around Green Lake, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for three resident herons.  Most often I see them standing stock still in the shallow lake’s edge, sometimes perched on a log or in a tree.  This was my first time seeing a great blue heron devouring its catch.  I found it a bit humorous to see that relatively big fish in the heron’s beak — were the heron’s eyes bigger than its stomach?  And then suddenly the scene took on an eerie feel — watching that fish move down the slender neck of the bird was like watching a snake swallow a mouse.  No fuss, no muss.  Over quickly.  My National Geographic moment.










10 Responses to “Nature, Red in Tooth and Claw and Beak”

  1. shoreacres Says:

    Lucky heron! And what a lovely series of photos. I get to see such things with the cormorants on a fairly regular basis, but it’s rare to see a heron catch such a big one. It’s one reason they love to hang around fishermen. Now and then, they’ll have a human flip them a fish that isn’t big enough for a human table, but is just the right size for a heron lunch.

  2. mymartinez Says:


    Sincerely, Michelle Martínez Kindergarten teacher Chicago

  3. Chris Says:

    Wow, great series of photos! One does not see that very often, if ever!

    • Rosemary Says:

      I was lucky I had my camera with me that day. I was hoping the frosty landscape would catch my eye. It did, but the wildlife was amazing, too.

  4. kittybluhm Says:

    Great photos! I’ve never seen herons eat like this!

  5. Your National Geographic moment indeed. Great photos.

  6. Says:

    Wow. Nice photography! When are you going to visit Oregon?

  7. I love these photos! Watching birds in my yard is one of my life joys! I get to see such interesting things, like a male cardinal feeding a seed to his female partner. God made nature so great! If anyone wants to read more about God’s gifts to us, go to or and search “Beth Moore”. Until Jan 10, she is giving away free copies of several E-books Kindle or Nook. I always enjoy her books! I got a couple free ones for myself.

  8. Elisa Says:

    What an awesome catch for both of you!!

  9. Rosemary this is incredible…to see this beautiful bird feeding up close.

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