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Our Natural World: Herons and What Happened to Those Ducklings?

Rip Van Winkle Heron

 I saw a... wait, what is that at the pond?

Those beautiful birds are called herons. There are 64 species of heron, with the blue heron being the most common in the Catskills (and North America). Our new friends at the pond have long legs, long bills, and a big wingspan but only weight up to 6 lbs because of their hollow bones. 

Wonder why they hang around the pond? Herons love to eat fish, mice, and insects. These freshwater birds are so smart, they even drop seeds into the water to lure their fish food to the surface. But who needs to do that when they have friendly humans to do the work for them? 

Don't worry if you haven't seen our heron friends yet, they live for up to 20 years and return to the same breeding sites each year - so they'll be back at Rip Van Winkle Campgrounds! 

Here are some additional interesting facts about these breathtaking birds: 

  • Great Blue Herons are very tall and can stand up to 4.5 feet high. 
  • They are very patient eaters. While they're foraging for food, they stand silently by the water and wait to stab at their prey with a quick lunge of their bill. 
  • Herons can eat up to 11 pounds of fish a day.
  • Both parents will take turns incubating their eggs for 4 weeks. 
  • Young herons can fly for the first time after about 60 days. 
  • Herons have great vision and can see fine at night. 
  • These birds can be found on each continent expect on Antarctica. 
  • The smallest species of heron is called the little bittern. 
  • They can fly fast - up to 30 miles per hour! 

The Catskills are always full of amazing wildlife - head down to Rip Van Winkle Campgrounds and say hi to these handsome and harmonious herons! 

Wait! Whatever happened to those ducklings?

Rip Van Winkle ducks

Don't worry! The ducklings are doing great! They are getting bigger and bigger and getting their "grown-up" feathers. They will be returned to the front pond shortly, just in time to get to know the other flock before winter. These ducklings will love to get to know you over a nice treat of duck food! 

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