And for starters I’ll have the duckling: Merciless heron switches from hunting fish after baby bird paddles a little too close
- The little duckling was swimming with its mother and four siblings recently in a Southern California pond
- The doomed bird was unaware of a nearby predator, which was patiently waiting for an opportunity to strike
- Although fish is typically herons’ favorite food, the opportunistic creature also eats baby birds, bugs and mice
A baby duckling that paddled too close to a great blue heron in a Southern California pond became a fast feast for the hungry predator.
Photographer Randy Wei was in Huntington Park recently when he spotted a mother mallard swimming in a pond with her five babies trailing close behind, oblivious to danger lurking nearby.
‘Somehow, she got too close and too close and too comfortable in the vicinity of the great blue heron,’ Wei said.
‘The heron was standing still, waiting for fish, when suddenly I heard wings flapping and water splashing.’
The heron had ensnared one of the baby birds in its massive beak, and the trapped duckling cried for help as it tried to wrangle its way from the predator’s grasp.
The mother duck and her ducklings strayed too close to a hungry great blue heron during a swim in Orange County, California
The duckling called to its nearby mother for help as the heron held its grip at the Huntington Park pond in Huntington Beach
‘It all happened very fast and next thing one of the ducklings was already in the heron’s beak and then its stomach.’
Fish is typically the food of choice for herons, which are carnivores. But they’ve been they’ve been known to eat small rodents, insects, and baby birds.
When they’ve built up an appetite, herons catch their pray by slowly wading into the water and playing the waiting game.
When a potential snack approaches, they extend their long necks and hold still until it’s close enough to grab.
The birds swallow their prey whole.
The heron, which towers over the baby bird, threw the duck into the air before catching it in its oversized beak
Although it tried, the tiny duckling couldn’t wriggle away from the grip of the larger and more powerful heron
The heron held onto the duck before swallowing it whole as the duckling, again, cried to its mother duck for help
The photographer said he used a Sony A7R4 camera with a 400mm f2.8 lens with a 2x extender to capture the shots at Huntington Park.
The 365-acre greenspace is a popular spot for bird watchers.
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