I finally took a picture of a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) today! I see them frequently when I first arrive at ponds, but they spook easily, so they’re usually long gone before I get my camera out.
I also saw what might have been a green heron (Butorides virescens) yesterday. I’m not a very good birder (yet), so I’ll have to see it again before I can be confident in my identification. Here’s a photo of a green heron that someone else took:
And now, for the parasites! One cool thing about having this blog is that I’m motivated to do things that I might not normally do, but that I probably should do. For instance, I went to the Natural History Museum host-parasite database and looked up the parasites of the great blue heron. There are a lot of potential parasites!
One of those parasites is the trematode Ribeiroia ondatrae. You might have heard of this parasite because the metacercariae stage of the trematode encysts in larval amphibians, and is known to cause limb malformations in frogs.
Because Ribeiroia can cause these limb malformations, the parasite has been studied extensively to determine whether it is one partial cause of the worldwide decline in amphibian populations. The jury is still out on that one! I’ll probably talk more about Ribeiroia in the future, but for now, here’s a bit more information from the Parasite of the Day blog.
Any one else have heron pictures to share? Or perhaps better yet, do you know of any other cool heron parasites?