Great Blue Heron stalking chickens

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by RuffledFeathers, Sep 6, 2009.

  1. RuffledFeathers

    RuffledFeathers Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 30, 2009
    Issaquah, WA
    I have seen a Great Blue Heron every day this last week investigating the coop and watching the flock free-range. He is such a big bird and it is very alarming to the girls, who run for cover immediately.
    I would assume that only small chicks would really be in danger, but does anyone know about Herons (and what the largest size animal they would attack is)?
    My free-rangers are now 16 weeks & up to adults and I have 3 roos to hopefully sound the alarm to my dog (who loves to chase the Herons, luckily). It's just a bit disconcerting watching him circle and land 15 feet away onto the roof of the house and PEER at everyone.
  2. Hoosiermomma

    Hoosiermomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 6, 2009
    S.E Ind
    Him? Could it possibly be a her? Maybe she is 'watching' over her flock? My peafowl hover over my cochins which are considerably bigger than them since they are still chicks. Just a thought~[​IMG]
  3. StupidBird

    StupidBird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2009
    I have nothing better to do, so I googled great blue heron diet and was surprised...LOOK OUT!!! other than these two typical short versions, I read a couple big reports. Especially juvenile birds will eat "small mammals and birds". Oh gosh. but the only size relative I found were that the primary is voles, mice, frogs, snakes...I don't know how much risk your chickens are in.

    However, for several weeks before the road out front was repaved one year, a g blue heron make the big puddle there part of its morning hunting routine. There weren't even tadpoles in that thing!

    Food Habits

    Great blue herons fish in both the night and the day, with most of their activity occurring around dawn and dusk. Herons use their long legs to wade in shallow water and their sharp "spearlike" bills to catch their food. Great blue herons' diet consists of mainly fish, but also includes frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, birds, small mammals, shrimps, crabs, crayfish , dragonflies, grasshoppers, and many other aquatic insects. Herons locate their food by sight and usually swallow it whole. Herons have been known to choke on prey that is too large. (Ferguson, 1998)
    and another site:

    The great blue heron is a solitary feeder. The heron eats many fish and some land animals. Its detailed diet includes small fish, lizards, frogs, snakes, crawfish, turtles, rodents, crayfish, shrimps, crabs, salamanders, grasshoppers, many water insects, nestlings, small mammals, occasionally human food scraps, shellfish, and small water birds.
    azygous likes this.
  4. Soccer Mom

    Soccer Mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 5, 2009
    West of Crazy
    I have one that lives in my pond. He's co-existed for years with my birds. I've never had a problem with him. My ducks almost seemed to accept him as part of the flock.

    But I don't have chickens. I can't imagine him being interested in anything but the tiniest of chicks.
  5. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    They will pick off small chicks if the hen and/or rooster do not succeed in running it off. I have never had one cause any problems with my grown chickens.
  6. fldiver97

    fldiver97 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 5, 2009
    Middleton, WI
    They can get your young chicks but a full grown chicken is not in their range from what I have heard/seen. I don't even think they would think of going after a regular size chicken. But I am sure it makes the chickens nervous to have him nearby
  7. Renee

    Renee Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 7, 2008
    Sometimes young herons without much experience will check things out before figuring out that this isn't ideal hunting grounds. I wouldn't worry.
  8. tom e

    tom e Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 13, 2010
    Ventura County
    I know this is super old, but I have one in my yard almost every day. My birds are alarmed by him, but honestly he doesn't mean any harm. I finally found out what he's doing there- bet it's the same in your yard: Eating gophers. Makes him a very welcome guest in my yard!!
  9. FenikT

    FenikT Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2012
    I live within 75ft of a lake and adjoining pine forest in SE Virginia and have plenty of herons and egrets around. Most folks around here complain about snakes (e.g., racers, copperheads, canebrake rattlers, and rat snakes) in their flower beds, sunning on the back porch, and around/in the coops. In the past 15 years I've only seen one snake, and it was actually over the fence in the woods. I think herons have a great deal to do w/ it. GB herons look like small pterodactyls and squawk obnoxiously loud when startled. My hens will sound their alert and run for cover when herons fly over or roost within eye shot of the backyard. Plus, I've never seen them predate a small bird. I suspect they are simply curious or looking for a handout.
    Gina Saul likes this.
  10. Kev

    Kev Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 13, 2008
    Sun City, California
    Yea I see them and big white egrets around in fields hunting and successfully capturing rodents.

    There are videos of them catching gophers, rats.. and ducklings on youtube. In Africa, some herons regularly hunt the doves that come to watering holes. I would only worry with "mouth sized" chicks.

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