[Photo courtesy of NCWildlife.org]

As I walked my daily path in the woods yesterday and came upon my favorite bend in the creek, I was stopped in my tracks by your presence. 

You see, I’ve been a great admirer of yours for many years.  Your exquisite grace, the slow beats of your very broad wings, your long purposeful beak and winding neck.  It seems the whole world pauses to marvel at your beauty when you depart from the earth into the sky. 

The day we encountered each other, we were both taken by surprise.  But you noticed me before I noticed you.  In that moment you took flight, emerging from the shallow creek into the nearby treetop, just far enough to listen in as I shared some words of awe and admiration: 

Great Blue Heron, you have been an essential connector for me and the more than human world.   When I moved back to North Carolina in 2004 after having spent 15 glorious months in the wide open spaces of Sedona, AZ I felt claustrophobic with all of the tall greenness of this state. I didn’t know if I would find the divine as easily as I had in the high desert, with its dramatic red rocks and bright blue sky.  

And then I found you. 

Your beauty emboldened me to spend more time near the river, in the woods, learning to be quiet and observant so as to receive the many gifts the natural world has to offer. 

For this I will always be grateful.  

Thank you for choosing Earthseed as a resting place along your path.  Thank you for allowing me a moment in time to share all of this with you.  Thank you for continuing to inspire and bless my existence with your marvelous ways.  

May we all learn to glide, swoop and soar through life as gracefully as you.  With gratitude and respect, ~Zulayka 

Ardea Herodias: Our most familiar and frequently seen wader, the Great Blue Heron has shown a remarkable increase in numbers across the state since about 1980. In fact, it was very poorly known as a breeding species as late as the 1970’s, with nesting colonies few and far between, mainly in remote swamps. However, with the great increase in beaver ponds, and a smaller increase in reservoirs and other man-made lakes and ponds, Great Blues have taken advantage of these new freshwater wetlands. Birds now nest in most of our counties away from the mountains, and nesting colonies are often easily visible around the upper ends of reservoirs and at beaver ponds. The species forages mainly at freshwater ponds, lakes, and streams; however, they also feed in brackish waters, especially at coastal impoundments, and rarely in salt water. Unlike most other waders, the Great Blue shuns nesting on coastal islands with other herons, egrets, and ibises. Instead, birds nest mostly by themselves, or with Great Egrets and/or Anhingas, with nests placed mainly in living trees — almost always in standing water — to deter predators.