Granted, it's a very small crocodilian and a very large bird, but it still feels a little strange to watch a heron as it nonchalantly gulps down an alligator.


Of course this is the great blue heron (Ardea herodias), the largest of heron-kind in North America – and it's a formidable shoreline predator. Standing at over a metre (more than three feet), the birds have a taste for just about any prey they can cram down their throats (in fact, their overzealous eating habits sometimes have fatal consequences).

This particular gator-guzzling bird was caught on camera by photographer Scott Martin in the Viera Wetlands of Florida, where the herons are common residents. "We watched this great blue heron swallow the young alligator whole after playing with it for at least ten minutes," Martin wrote on Instagram.

Though we tend to think of them as fishing specialists, the birds will happily impale other morsels with those impressive beaks. Their exceptionally wide range, stretching throughout Mexico, the United States and large portions of Canada, also helps with that wide-ranging diet. 

"Great blue herons eat nearly anything within striking distance, including fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, insects and other birds," writes Florida Fish and Wildlife in a Facebook post featuring Martin's video. "This large, wading bird is a familiar sight to most Floridians. It's a permanent resident of wetlands throughout the state, often seen along ponds, lakes and canals in housing developments."

So, baby alligators beware – herons think you make an excellent snack. Gophers, too:


Top image: Wikimedia Commons