April 22, 2015 by Joe Kukura

There is nothing in nature quite like the sight of a large and stately great blue heron. There’s no place like Lake County, California, to see the great blue heron, as Lake County’s Clear Lake is home to a massive rookery of these tall and majestic birds. And there’s no time to see them like Lake County Heron Days, an annual gathering for bird-watchers and heron enthusiasts held every year in Lake County. Clear Lake is a birding spot recognized by the Audubon Society as an important bird area. You can see large flocks of great blue heron at Heron Days, as well as green heron, black-crowned night heron and several species of grebes in a series of expert-led boating tours, with Redbud Audubon Society members on hand to provide in-depth analysis of the birds and their behaviors.

Lake County Heron Days 2015 takes place May 2-3 on Clear Lake, the oldest lake in North America. Pontoon boats will be available for birding enthusiasts to board and observe the birds in their wetland habitat, with tours focusing on different areas of Clear Lake both days.

In addition to the heron, bird-watchers also have an opportunity to see many types of birds, songbirds and grebes that populate this rich and diverse habitat.

Are you familiar with heron? They are magnificently strange and majestic animals, with long necks that can curl both ways and an unforgettable intensity in their eyes. Often called cranes, the great blue is the largest heron found in North America. The great blue heron can grow up to 4 feet tall and can have a wingspan of nearly 7 feet.

Heron typically stand motionless in shallower waters, but move with amazing speed and velocity once they’ve identified their prey. Their long beaks allow them to capture and feed on very large fish and even gophers and rodents. And their ability to run across the surface of the water is one of the most spectacular sights in nature.

Do not fret that water levels are too low to attract heron this year. Although the California drought has had a dramatic effect on many bodies of water in the State, Clear Lake remains fairly full and can accommodate safe boating and the full diaspora of wildlife that call Clear Lake their home.

You won’t forget seeing the great blue heron in the wild, and Heron Days is a must-see for serious bird-watchers. Pontoon boats leave from Lakeside County Park near Kelseyville on Saturday, May 2, and on Sunday, May 3 from Redbud Park in Clearlake. Pontoon boats will leave regularly from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. both days. Tickets are $25 for 90-minute boat tours and $40 for 150-minute boat tours.