"Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day." Mark Twain
I found another bird that reads Mark Twain.
In January of 2016 I posted a Pied-Billed Grebe eating a frog, That post has turned out to be one of the most popular on this site. Rumor has it that some Arizona Game and Fish staff saw the post and declared, "Finally, a good use for a bullfrog!" [Note that bullfrogs are invasive species in Arizona and deplete our native wildlife.]
Wednesday morning September 20th I joined Luke Safford and a small gaggle of fellow birders for Luke's weekly Audubon walk at Sweetwater Wetlands. Just as we started, Luke spotted a Green Heron sitting on the edge of the water feature at the front entrance. Camera in hand, I could not resist spending some time getting some images. Below is our subject, likely a juvenile based on incomplete coloration.
A note for photo geeks: All of these images were captured shortly after 7 am, (only 45 minutes after sunrise) in very low light, facing east. To get a shutter speed of ~1/320th I had to crank the ISO up to 2000 on a Canon 7D (cropped sensor) attached to a Sigma 150-600 Contemporary series lens, hand held. So, cruddy light and lots of noise. Be kind. Post-production processing in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom using almost every trick I know.
Above, our subject scanning the pond. Below, he becomes more focused to his right
Below, the hunter is in a crouch, weight on the right leg, left leg ready to push off. If you look carefully on the far left side of the picture in the water, you can see a frog's head just above the surface.
Our hunter springs for the frog, and comes up with his prize.
Below we see our successful hunter getting his prey ready to eat. Note that I shot a total of ~200 frames, most of them showing the heron dunking the frog into the water, crushing it in its beak, or almost swallowing it, then dropping it and trying again. I have edited it down to the representative images that follow.
Finally our hunter has his prey lined up, and in one large gulp, swallows it.
The heron stretches his neck up repeatedly to get the frog down. They have very long necks.
Time for a drink.
Our Heron looks content, and definitely bigger than at the beginning of the sequence.
I have searched the internet but found it difficult to get an estimate of the total number of calories in a complete frog. Likely they provide balanced nutrition with their natural mix of protein, fat, carbohydrates and minerals (remember they have bones and a skull). And talk about probiotics! Our heron swallowed a whole digestive tract!
For spectacular images of Green Herons, including juveniles and nestlings, see Tom Grey's website at this link.
Have a great day everyone!
Henry Johnson, photographer and author of this site. For more detail, see About