Heron Tales

The Aztecs had arrived in the Valley of Mexico sometime in the early twelfth century. Their legendary homeland was Atzlan. It is the source of their name and means 'people of heron place.'

Heron: is associated with morning, and is the first bird to salute the dawn. A heron also tied in with regeneration of life. A heron provides for its young like a stork. It is associated with longevity, silent memory, overcoming danger, indiscretion, dual nature: because of it amphibious nature, and melancholy. The heron is sacred to the Muses and is related to priesthood. Herons are seen as a favorable of men. When heron's leave the marsh and fly above the clouds they announce the coming of a storm.

...signifying the world of life and light, as opposed to that of death and darkness. For the same reason the snow-white heron was much esteemed,...

... The heron created all the birds of the air except the kite.

"I saw the heron poise like a branch of white petals in the swamp . . . " from Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Mary Oliver's "Wings"


The Great Blue Heron is a lone hunter. He is the largest of the Heron, and is magnificent in flight. He may often appear to have no structure or organization to his habit, but this is far from the truth. It is a matter of perception. Heron peple have a differet perspective on life. They know that the tasks in this world will be done.

Heron teaches us to stand on our own so that we are not dependant upon others. He teaches us self confidence. It is interesting to note that those with the Medicine of the Great Blue Heron are often kept in check with Owl Medicine. They learn self confidence, but not ego. Those with the Medicine of the Great Blue Heron may sit until the rest of us lose patience, but following promptings from the heart the are one of the most magnificent when they choose to soar.

The feathers of the tskwy, the great white heron or American egret (Herodias egretta), are worn by ball players, and this bird is probably the "swan" whose white wing was used as a peace emblem in ancient times.

A rare bird said to have been seen occasionally upon the reservation many years ago was called by the curious name of nd-dikan', "it looks at the sun," "sun-gazer." It is described as resembling a blue crane, and may possibly have been the Floridus cerulea, or little blue heron.

Instructed by the oldest if the Samanas, Siddhartha practised self-denial, practised meditation, according to a new Samana rules. A heron flew over the bamboo forest--and Siddhartha accepted the heron into his soul, flew over forest and mountains, was a heron, ate fish, felt the pangs of a heron's hunger, spoke the heron's croak, died a heron's death.


Great Blue Heron

Wary of our presence a Great Blue Heron waits in the lazy waters of the river's edge, watching. Shafts of early evening sunlight weave patterns through the thick green tangle of the forest before shattering into glorious prisms among the rocks. We watch, it waits.

Patient solitude.

Pungent, musty odors of damp earth and mold-rich leaves mix with the tang of spruce and fragrant brush. A light breeze rattles the richly mottled tans and browns, reds and yellows of falling leaves and tease through the feathers of the Heron as it waits, watching in the shadows.

A small, milky reflection, the promise of a meal, draws silently closer. With lightening speed the Great Blue, using its long, dagger- sharp bill strikes. Tossing a small fish up into the air the Heron recaptures it, head first, and with a quick gulp the meal disappears.

This tall, slender bird, now wading stealthily through the shallow water, shows off its stately posture and blue-gray plumage. Although standing over four feet in height, with a wing span of six feet, the average Great Blue Heron weighs only about five pounds.

Generally solitary in its feeding habitats it is found primarily on the edge waters of lakes, rivers, streams, marshes and other wetland areas. During the breeding season Herons gather together in colonies, nesting high in large trees usually situated on lake islands or isolated shorelines. There are approximately 75 active breeding colonies in Alberta supporting an estimated 1500 breeding pairs.

Incredibly keen-eyed and wary of human intrusion this individual appears to accept our silent presence. Although we are well camouflaged the bird is very much aware of our presence and the only movement we dare to make is that of one finger on the focus of our binoculars.

We watch and wait as the Heron stalks with quiet, dignified and endless patience. Step by cat-like step, a swift thrust of its long, curved neck and another meal is quickly dispatched.

Swarms of tiny insects chase the rainbow shadows dancing through the sun-kissed ripples. The distant clicking of grasshopper wings and the soft chirring of a squirrel are followed by a disturbance upriver that catches the attention of the Heron. With a great "aaawwkk", and strong, slow flaps of its black-tipped wings, it is gone.

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