Herons don’t get the credit they deserve for being some of the most skilled hunters in the animal kingdom.
There are 64 different species of herons, including egrets and bitterns, but they all prefer to do their hunting on the edge of water bodies, patiently stalking the shallows for anything they can spear with their harpoon-like beaks.
It’s actually similar to how Tim McGraw prefers to catch fish, but more on that later.
The water birds will also opportunistically snatch prey with their beaks and feet when they can. Their unique hunting style makes them incredibly efficient predators, and my favorite bird to observe in the wild.
While raptors like eagles and hawks are well known for their ability as airborne hunters, highly carnivorous herons are just as adept at their own hunting style.
They’ve been known to eat pretty much any living thing that might be found in shallow water, including fish, lizards, snakes, crawdads, crabs, and all other kinds of crustaceans, mollusks, and aquatic insects. Even rodents.
Herons are also known to manipulate their food, tossing and turning it until it goes limp and then lining it up so it slides easily down their throats.
The fiercely carnivorous nature of the birds and the practice of manipulating food is perfectly exhibited in a wild way by this black-crowned night heron downing a baby duckling in one gulp.
The big bird even dunks the baby bird into the water like it’s a warm chocolate chip cookie splashing into a cold glass of milk in order to ensure a smoother swallow. Absolutely brutal if you’re the duckling, but probably pretty tasty if you’re the heron.