Seeing the Great Blue Heron, Unexpectedly

Blue Heron at Stricker's Pond

Great Blue Heron at Stricker’s Pond ©2012 Bo Mackison

. . . when I am out searching, I never have a set idea of what it is I’m looking for. I simply seek, and occasionally I find  exactly what it is I wasn’t searching for. ~ Jeff T. Alu

I’ve never considered myself much of a birdwatcher, and I had little interest in taking photos of birds in the first years I explored with a camera. I always enjoyed watched a shorebird circle the pond, the rhythm of its wing stroke powerful yet graceful. I enjoyed the sandhill cranes, especially when they were quite a novelty. The resurgence of their numbers makes the sandhills a more common occurrence, but still provides a moment of joy, seeing them healthy and often with their chicks by their sides. And I have always loved listening to the sounds of the forest and prairie song birds, their music varied and always a surprise because I seldom can make a strong connection between song and specific bird.

And now on my morning walks I see a variety of birds from the heron family —  great blue herons, white egrets, and the little green heron. I returned on a late afternoon, alone, just me and my camera, to see what I might see. The lake was eerily quiet — only a few wood ducks and their babies were swimming along one shore. It had been a hot day and so I speculated the birds were keeping themselves cool in a shady spot.

While walking through the oak forest, I chanced to look up into the trees in an open space in the woods. The outlined branches of a dead tree against the deep blue sky caught my eye, and I was evaluating the textures and shapes, the lighting. Suddenly my eye caught a movement in the branches. This great blue heron stretched her s – shaped neck, twisted it, and then snuggled back into her roosting position. I was mesmerized.

I didn’t have the lens I would have preferred, but I made do with my 50 mm prime. Many shots later, after I had amassed a healthy number of bird-roosting-on-branch shots, I watched as the heron stretched its neck again, made a slight dip with her body, similar to the movement of a human diver on a spring-board, and then she flung herself into the air in an explosion of feathers and flapping wings. What a marvelous sight.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is falling in love with the beautiful herons she sees as she walks in her neighborhood!

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Gandalf says:

    Very neat. I’d love to see a Blue Heron that close up someday.

  2. Lovely capture, Bo. One of the most amazing sights, to me, is watching a Great Blue Heron take flight. I marvel that a bird so big can lift itself into the air so gracefully.

  3. I remember the first time I saw a heron up in a tree – it was the oddest sight…my thinking that they always stood solitary and still by the water. What a wonderful capture!!! You know what they say – if you don’t like what you’re seeing…look up – :-)!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      That was one of the first “rules” for a photographer that I actually put in place. Once you’ve taken a photo, always look up, down, and then turn around! (Photographer’s dance!) LOL!

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