Sighting of the Month: Great Blue Heron

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Here’s another waterbird that lives in the desert. It hangs around all the ditches and drains in the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, the agency responsible for maintaining irrigation for the farms in the middle of New Mexico. The heron feeds on fish, frogs, crawfish, and snakes and does not migrate, even during the winter. It’s one of the larger birds in the state, standing more than four feet tall with a wingspread of six feet. The one I saw on Sunday was perched in a tree, which is entirely normal but looked strange because we don’t think that perching birds should be that big. Another surprising water bird that perches in trees is the wood duck, which has claws on its webbed feet to help keep its balance on branches.