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Blue Heron in Flight
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Great Blue Heron

Blue Heron winter plumage

As you are driving along the waterways of the Cascade Loop, be on the lookout for the majestic Great Blue Heron. They are regularly spotted wading in shallow water, patiently watching for small fish or frogs, their most common meals. Blues stand as much as 4 1/2 feet tall (1.4 meters) and therefore can be easily spotted standing in the water, or in the reeds surrounding ponds. Their wingspan can reach six feet, and when they fly, you can identify them because they look like they are carrying twigs, but it is actually their long legs sticking out beneath them. 

Trio of Herons

Blue Herons are mostly solitary hunters, but can congregate where the food is abundant, such as the cattail pond behind Greenbank Farm on Whidbey Island. They can also be seen in almost every region of the Cascade Loop, as the loop highways follow major rivers and tributaries almost the entire 440 miles. Just up the Methow River, near Pateros is another regular hangout for herons, as well as many places along the Wenatchee River, and the Icicle River near Leavenworth. They prefer freshwater ponds, but can be seen along the Puget Sound around inland waterways and tidepools.

Heron having lunch

If you stop for a picnic or to stretch your legs along a shallow waterway, especially where tall grasses grow, scan the terrain for these large birds, they are easy to spot when hunting, or listen for their unique KRONK call or the loud flap of their enormous wings in flight.