Poor bird! You will never believe what this great blue heron did to cool down on this sweltering Florida afternoon!
Sweat poured down my forehead as I walked down to Lake Tsala Apopka one hot summer afternoon. Although clouds billowed in the distance, afternoon thunderstorms had not come yet to cool off the steamy air. Anne drove to the pool and I decided to walk instead to get exercise and see what photographic opportunities might become available.
I was not the only creature suffering on this sultry day. An overheated great blue heron stood along the edge of a small island in the lake – its feet in the water, panting with its beak open and throat vibrating rapidly. It saw a fish or frog in the water; the tall bird arched its wings and leaned forward poised to strike. It struck the water with its long pointed bill, but missed and stood back up panting again with its wings drooping at its sides. A slight, but noticeable breeze blew past me. The heron, sensing the gentle wind, did what any anhinga bird does to dry its wings after diving in the water. The heron outstretched its wings to catch the breeze to cool off. The tall bird rotated its body – wings outstretched – to maximize catching the full impact of the slight breeze.
“You are no dummy”, I said to the great blue heron. After some time passed, the heron folded its wings and sauntered off to the other side of the island and I sauntered off to meet Anne and cool off in the pool’s water.