Great Blue Heron
(scroll down for description)
30” x 40”, acrylic, 1978
This elegant bird is the largest of the heron family. Over half of its length is the head and neck, a well-designed javelin system. The gracefully folded neck can straighten with lightning speed aimed at a luckless frog or fish. With a toss of the head, the prey is swallowed and the hunting pose is resumed. So motionless is this pose, that the heron resembles a painting on a Japanese screen, or goes unnoticed altogether. Many times I have paddled around a curve in a river to be startled by a croaking squawk. The heron inevitably sees me first and takes off on great wings which spread as wide as I am tall. When taking flight, the neck is stretched out but is folded back as the cruising speed is reached. Herons are mistakenly called cranes by some people, but the much rarer cranes fly with necks outstretched.
Great blue herons are found where land and water meet in almost all of the habitable parts of North America.