Posted by: venajensen | August 18, 2010

Henry the Hairy Heron

We call him Henry the Hairy Heron a.k.a HHH, our next door neighbors call him Scar (because he has a scar on one of his wings,)

Henry the Hairy Heron

Phylicia and Orin, who regularly feed him the too-small pike minnows they can’t turn in for the State’s bounty, call him Alfred and Maya the Matriarch of the Marina simply calls him Heron.   I’m positive he’s had many other names, but no matter what we call him, we all agree he’s the mascot of the marina. 

He is almost always around somewhere:  on Herman’s roof, resting in the nearby trees, fishing off the bank or dock, sleeping overhead on the power cable, or hanging out next to Phylicia and Orin’s boat well, waiting for handouts.  Fiercely territorial, we know he’s courting when he allows his girlfriend to hang out on a stump near his haunts.  He is majestic in flight, statue-like when getting ready to strike, and seems to be completely at home here at the marina.  He has a curious habit of stalking the newest residents of the marina; he stood outside our houseboat for several weeks right after we moved in. 

Henry is an amazing angler.  He cocks his head, eye-balling the fish below the surface.  He will stand for hours, frozen in motion.  Then he will move – oh so slowly…slowly…slowly…NOW!!! lightning-quick he spears the fish with his beak and in on smooth movement gulps the silvery minnow down.  One evening I spent hours fishing with Henry a few feet away…darn creature ate all my catch for the day.  Still, I couldn’t help but marvel how incredible it was to hang out and fish with a large wild bird.  While quietly watching Henry expertly catch his dinner, I wondered how often the natives who lived here a century ago practiced this same end-of-the day ritual, and if they thought he was as marvelous as I do.

Fishing with Henry the Hairy Heron

Here’s how the Great Blue Heron came into existence, according to ancient native lore. 

One of the creatures was a great fisherman. He was always on the rocks or was wading with his long fishing spear. He kept it ready to thrust into some fish. He always wore a little cape, round and white over his shoulders. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things transformed him into Great Blue Heron. The cape became the white feathers around the neck of Great Blue Heron. The long fishing spear became his sharp pointed bill.

He has become a familiar sight; when we see Henry we feel we are where we belong – right at home.

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