Readers’ wildlife photos: Heron does its business (and lagniappe)

February 1, 2014 • 12:08 pm

Most of us have, at some time, been hit by bird poop released in mid-air.  Well, we can be thankful that excreta didn’t come from a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias): as these photos by Stephen Barnard show, that bird really lets go when it’s flying.  If you ignore the scatalogical aspects, these photos really are quite beautiful.  Stephen’s remarks:

This is why Great Blue Herons are sometimes called shitepokes. Right after I took these photos I saw a trout with a fresh heron wound.

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When I wrote the photographer that I thought the photos were “lovely,” he responded with this note and sent another nice photo:

Lovely isn’t the word I’d use, but remarkable in a way. Some comments I’ve gotten on Facebook are “skywriting in Arabic (right to left)” and “pooparazzi shot”. If you pick just one photo I suggest the second one. It got more “likes” on Facebook Birders than anything else I’ve posted. By the way, the Facebook Birders and the Wildlife Photography Facebook groups have some great photos, and lots of them. You might check them out. The combination of digital photography and the internet have made possible a golden age of photo sharing.

Here’s a nice photo of a Song Sparrow [Melospiza melodia] the same morning.


43 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos: Heron does its business (and lagniappe)

  1. I once had a client tell me she was “addicted to that her-on.” I told her it wasn’t advisable to inject a migratory bird into one’s bloodstream. (drum roll)

  2. Was told a long time ago that if you walk under their nests-they are communal nesters-in a rookery that you will get dumped on. Not sure which end of the bird the stuff comes out of though.

      1. Maybe on take-off? Lots of birds lighten their load that way. Whenever I’ve flushed ring-necked pheasants, they let loose. It’s even possible it would distract a predator in those crucial seconds getting airborne.

        1. Yes, robins do it too. I rescued a robin and raised him until it was time for him to migrate & he’d poo all over your hand just as he was going to take off. Blech!

              1. I didn’t know that, it was never mentioned in a beautiful documentary about humming birds which I recently watched.

                One learns something every day!

              2. Think about it. Could any bird survive on sugar water — no vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, oils or fats? Some estimates are that insects represent 60-80% of the hummers’ diet. I’d love to get a stop-action shot of a hummer nomming a spider. (OK, not an insect.)

              3. If someone mistakes capitol for capital, but is otherwise apparently knowledgeable and passionate about a specialized area of knowledge, like hummingbirds, that destroys their credibility in you eyes?

              4. I made a typo in that reply, so I’ll give up trying to convince you that hummingbirds eat arthropods because you wouldn’t believe me. I’m also a rather poor speller, and could easily mistake capitol and capital.

              5. Kindly point out where I stated that I don’t believe you? All I said is that I found it difficult (therefore not impossible) to give credence to someone who doesn’t know the difference between capitol and capital.

            1. their poop must smell sweet!

              Not necessarily. Do you have lime trees where you live, with their attendant aphids? Park the car under the tree, let it get covered in sugary aphid p**p, and take a sniff. I’ve not got a terribly good nose (I have to take several sips of a good malt before I can identify it ; devastating!), but I could never smell a thing. On the other hand, touch the paint work and you’ll have to peel yourself off!

      1. Studying the anatomy of shellfish of various phyla was enough to convince me that eating shellfish wasn’t a good idea. (Living about as far from the coast as possible without levitation was another encouragement.)
        See that mussel? Of you’re going to eat it, you’re either going to eat, essentially, a gut full of mussel poo, or it’s sex organs. Or both. The mussel muscle is minor.

    1. Great video. Swiss-shit is cool; I love the way the swans on Lake Zurich make neon-green clouds that trail behind them!

  3. As an erstwhile computational physics geek, I see this as a study in fluid dynamics, illustrating the transition from laminar to turbulent flow.

  4. I think my car was once bombed by a pelican.

    They were fairly common in the area I was living at the time and the only other bird around big enough to leave a splatter that size was a great horned owl.

    Seriously, it blocked out most of my windshield.

    1. Nah. It was just God targeting someone nearby who was an abomination unto Him. More often than not He misses, so don’t take it personally.

  5. What a great shot! It is a mixture between an aerial and an earthbound ballet. Mmm, faeces, mmm (sorry, seed dispersal biologist bias kicking in).

  6. Right after I took these photos I saw a trout with a fresh heron wound.

    Caused by the beak, claws, or just blunt-force trauma from impacting poo?

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