VIDEO: Great Blue Heron Swallows Giant New York City Rat

Manhattan Bird Alert

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again… Herons simply don’t get the credit they deserve for being some of the most skilled hunters in the animal kingdom.

Earlier this spring we saw a night heron dunking a baby duckling in the water like an Oreo cookie and now we’ve got a great blue heron gulping down one of New York City’s legendarily tough old rats. That thing goes down smooth too.

Great blue herons are the largest species of heron in North America. They can reach heights of up to 5-feet tall and have wingspans as large as 7-feet wide. The incredibly slender birds only weight between 4-8 pounds. The average NYC rat weights about a pound or two, so that’s a pretty hefty meal.

Great blue herons are one of the most fascinating birds in the wild to observe hunting. They will methodically use their long legs to slowly move through shallow water undetected before propelling their long necks forward to use their long and pointy beaks like a spear. Then they swallow their prey headfirst like a snake.

Herons have been known to eat pretty much anything they can find in shallow in shallow water, including fish, lizards, snakes, crawdads, crabs, and all other kinds of crustaceans, mollusks, and aquatic insects. Even rodents.

If you’re wondering what a rat is doing out in the middle of this Central Park pond, well they’re actually extremely proficient swimmers that can swim up to a mile in open water and reportedly tread water for as long as 3 days.

The footage of the heron taking down the rat was filmed David Barrett, an avid birdwatcher who runs the popular twitter account Manhattan Bird Alert.

“Great Blue Herons eat plenty of fish, but they won’t pass up a meaty and filling New York City rat—this morning at the Central Park Pond.”

“It took the Great Blue Heron only a few seconds to lift the rat, once killed, out of the water and swallow it—this morning at the Central Park Pond.”

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock