I love to watch Tri-colored Herons as they hunt in the shallow water – their technique is so showy! It’s no wonder they are so slender – they perform feats of acrobatics over and over again just to fill up on a meal of one teeny, tiny, little fish after another.
The process begins as the Tri-colored Heron struts about, peering intently into the water, when, suddenly~
. . . he jumps up and twists around backward. At the same time, he spreads his broad wings wide, as a “cloak”, to create a large, dark shadow over the water. All the better to see those little fish . . . !
Then he jabs his VERY long beak into the water, with a highly dramatic flair, but almost always comes up with only a very small fish. He pops the fish down his throat in a flash, and then starts the process all over again, beak still dripping from the last morsel. The Tri-colored Herons repeat this quite predictable series of movements many, many times in one feeding session. If the ‘fishing’ is good, they sometimes stay in one spot for 15-20 minutes or more, flitting about in the water.
This terrific short video, posted about a year ago on YouTube by Dan Emlin, is a great example of this behavior in action: Dance of the Tricolored Heron.