New York City is no stranger to rats and apparently, neither are great blue herons. A video shared by the Manhattan Bird Alert’s Twitter account captured a great blue heron in the city’s Central Park as the feathered creature gulped down a rather rotund city rat.
It took the Great Blue Heron only a few seconds to lift the rat, once killed, out of the water and swallow it—this morning at the Central Park Pond. pic.twitter.com/E4Vx0ya8od— Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark) September 5, 2021
David Barrett, the founder of Manhattan Bird Alert, said the heron had killed the rat Sunday morning and then carried it to the Central Park pond. The clip captures the heron pulling the rat up from the depths of the pond before gobbling it down whole in just seconds.
Barrett further shared that great blue herons typically feed on fish, frogs, crabs, and small rodents, but definitely won’t turn down a meal as filling as a plump rat. He said while it’s rare for the heron to devour such a large rat, they’re are known to eat larger fish. “They eat whatever they can catch,” he said.
The New York Post stated that since the surge of the coronavirus pandemic, New York City‘s rat population has flourished. Following the Manhattan Bird Alert’s sharing of the clip, followers praised the large bird, applauding its contribution to diminishing the city’s rat problem.
“This bird doing the lord’s work getting rid of rats,” commented one follower. Another suggested putting thousands of herons in the city subway to help with the issue.
Alas, Barrett said that because of the city’s mass rat population, which ranges upwards of 400,000, “[There] are far too few [herons] to make an impact.” Regardless, New Yorkers applaud this particular heron for his efforts.
Great Blue Herons Fear No Prey
While many of us may shy from approaching an NYC rat, let alone devouring it, the bothersome rodents aren’t the only large creatures blue herons have a taste for.
The original poster for the Floridian clip came from Facebook user, Shellie Gilliam. At the time the video was recorded, Gilliam said she watched the heron spend half an hour killing and devouring the baby alligator near Lake Apopka. In reference to the clip, she said, “Just Wow! Nature continues to amaze me every day.”
Amazing (or appalling in this case), it’s incredibly difficult to imagine the heron able to fully swallow and digest the baby gator. Besides the fact that the heron’s neck appears incredibly narrow, I also don’t imagine the creature’s rough skin going down easily. Unfortunately, the clip doesn’t give us a full conclusion either as it wraps up with the baby gator’s tail hanging out of the bird’s mouth.
While many have fears of both rats and alligators, perhaps it’s due time, we start fearing these daring herons as well.