Alberta snowbird spots Great Blue

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, February 3, 2022

As readers of these columns are well aware, my wife and I have a special fondness for the Great Blue Heron that visits the pond along Hwy 22 just north of Fireside across from Cochrane Toyota each summer. (See my Aug. 2, 2018 column.)

But Great Blue’s there for such a short time each year! In fact, my photo of him at the left in the accompanying collage shows him taking off once more for parts unknown after only a couple weeks’ stay. And as Mary Anna said to me just the other day as we drove past the pond, “I wonder where Great Blue is spending the winter.”

Well, if our longtime coffee companion John Chalmers’ suspicions are correct, we just may know now where Great Blue is spending this winter. Edmontonians John and his wife, Linda, spend a good part of their winters near Manzanillo, Mexico, along the southwest coast. The writer/historian, like Mary Anna and me, also cannot resist photographing birds in all their glory. And that includes Great Blue Herons!

Great Blues are large black-striped blue-gray birds that love to strut their magnificent wingspan wider than my outstretched arms. Their range extends from central America into Alaska. And for at least one of them, that includes stopovers at a Cochrane pond.

In John’s case, there’s a lagoon near where the fishing boats are moored not far from his Manzanillo accommodations. Recently, while visiting the lagoon, John says, “a Great Blue Heron was exposing itself to soak up some morning sun. Then it posed for its portrait to show us what a handsome fellow he is.” Could this be Warren and Mary Anna’s Great Blue buddy, he wondered.

Well, whether our fine-feathered friend is Great Blue himself, or his look-alike, we don’t know. But what we do know is our gratitude for such a fine creature flying into our lives, even if only for a few weeks each year. And maybe he even spends his winters on a lagoon in Mexico, waiting for an admirer from Alberta to drop by with a camera!

Thanks, John, for the photo. Snowbirds that you are, you and Great Blue prove that old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.”


© 2022 Warren Harbeck

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