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Wildlife Damage Management

Great Blue Heron (Ardea Herodias)

These giant wading birds are easy to identify by their long sharp bill, lean gray bodies and distinctive black and white striped heads. They are common throughout the year in Alabama and are not endangered, but cannot be hunted due to their status as a nongame bird.

Great Blue heron with chick - Photo by Don Getty

Herons, sometimes mistakenly called egrets or cranes, eat fish, crayfish, salamanders, frogs, aquatic insects, and snakes. They have been known to boldly swipe fish from bait buckets even with the fisherman in close proximity. They typically hunt as individuals but live in larger groups to breed and rear their young. They build their nests in treetops near lakes, rivers, ponds, and marshes where shallow waters provide good “wade fishing” opportunities.

Herons can become a nuisance, especially if you are trying to commercially farm fish or raise them for your own use and enjoyment. It is illegal to harm herons, but you may discourage them from hunting in your pond in several ways. Stretching a net over shallow water or providing some kind of structure for fish to hide under would make it difficult for any wading bird to hunt. If you can alter the waters’ edge so that it is a steep drop to deep water, this too will discourage herons. Scare devices such as alarms may be effective, but the plastic herons intended to scare other herons away would be more likely to attract herons than repel them. If the birds become a threat to human safety, a depredation permit can be requested through the Wildlife Services Office at APHIS.

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(From Penn State Cooperative Extention)