Great blue herons have specialized neck vertebrae to manipulate their necks into an S shape. This helps them fly better and catch prey faster. Herons use powder-down feathers to clean their bodies.
When great blue herons form the signature S-shape in their necks, they also stretch their legs behind when courting or landing. These birds are also prone to choking to death when their necks are in the S-shape position. They usually nest and mate in colonies, but they can be territorial near feeding areas. Although great blue herons are large in size, they are only around 5 pounds because of their hollow bones.
Great blue herons can hunt during the day and night due to high amounts of photoreceptors in their eyes, which enhance night vision. They flock around fish farms, posing problems for farmers, but studies indicate that they mostly eat diseased fish that would have expired soon. Many sick fish spend most of their time on the surface, allowing predators such as great blue herons to catch them. These birds usually stand on kelp beds and wait for prey to swim by in the Pacific.
Great blue herons use their middle claws to comb their feathers and wash away fish and slime after hunting in swamps. The special feathers that produce powder are located on the chest and grow continuously. The powder forces the slime and oils to clump together, allowing the birds to comb away the debris easily.