Heron Hunting and Fishing
- Most heron live in groups but hunt alone. Some hunt at night, others only in the day, while some hunt anytime. Collectively, heron exhibit more than 3 dozen separate feeding behaviors.
The Great Blue Heron feeds mainly on small fish less than half the length of its bill. Standing quite still until prey is seen, it suddenly plunges its head into the water, catches the prey in its bill and flips it into its gullet.
The Tricolored Heron is very defensive about its hunting area. Using many types of prey- catching behavior, it changes its diet depending on environmental conditions. But the Tricolored Heron maintains a diet that is 90 percent fish.
The Lava Heron feeds in shore zones and has been recorded catching crabs at a rate of 2 to 3 per minute. The birds have to eat quickly because other shore birds often steal their prey. These heron also eat eggs or chicks of various finch and mockingbird species.
The Small Blue Heron also lives near saltwater and like the Lava Heron enjoys seafood like crab and shrimp. It is not an ambitious hunter, but has a prey-capture success rate of about 60 percent.
The Black-crowned Night Heron is an opportunistic feeder grasping the prey with its bill instead of stabbing it. This heron uses its bill to stir the water and create a disturbance to lure prey.
One of the few birds to use tools is the Green Heron. It uses baits and lures, such mayflies, feathers and even bread crusts. The Green Heron places its bait on the water surface and waits. Green Heron are opportunistic foragers but perhaps not hardworking because they stalk superabundant food resources, such as breeding frogs.