Field Observation Skills

Locate a foraging heron. Where would you expect a heron to feed within a 5-mile radius of your school or home? Consider the habitat types and the land uses within and surrounding those habitats. When do you think a heron would be foraging? Visit a few potential foraging locations at different times of the day to see if you find a heron foraging there. Once you find a foraging heron, observe it for at least a half hour. Practice your field observation skills. Remain quiet and well-hidden so that you do not influence its behavior. Record everything the heron does. Is it feeding, resting, or interacting with other individuals or species? How does it move (quickly, slowly, smoothly, jerkily, walking, running, hopping)? If it was feeding, did it catch a prey item, what was it, how big was it, and how did it eat it (swallow whole, tear into pieces first)? Don't forget to take notes on where you are (include directions, draw a site map, and describe the habitat, water level, plants, etc.), the time of day, and the weather. If you found a foraging heron, visit that same site at the same time of day again to see if it always visits that site at that time of day. If not, vary the timing of your visits to see if you can determine a pattern for when the heron visits the location. Suggested Resources:

  • Google Earth and/or DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer
  • Data sheets (with examples of completed data sheets) for recording observations of foraging herons