It doesn’t happen often, but most of the time it’s because I don’t … The Heron Conservation resource estimated Great Blue heron populations of more than 35,000 birds in the 1970s along the east and south North American coast, but now the nesting population just in Louisiana numbers over 10,000 individuals and has been increasing. These birds are active mainly in the mornings and during dusk when the fishing is best. Great blue herons don’t migrate from the refuge, per say, but they do move around a lot, especially during the winter months in search of open water. Its varied diet can also include insects, snakes, turtles, rodents and small birds. What they look like: The Great Blue Heron is the largest and most widespread heron in North America. I can’t say from a scientific standpoint this is always the case but I did have an experience with several herons and a dead fish this past week which caused me to think they prefer live food over something already dead. The members of this family are mostly associated with wetlands and water, and feed on a variety of live aquatic prey. The gray heron … Great Blue Herons get their name from their blue-gray plumage and their large size. There are plenty of food choices for the Great Blue Heron but the majority of their diet consists of small fish. The primary food for great blue heron is small fish, though it is also known to opportunistically feed on a wide range of shrimp, crabs, aquatic insects, rodents, and other small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds, especially ducklings. The birds in the north of their range breed from March until May and November to April in the south. It is highly adaptable, both in habitat requirements and diet. The great blue herons would rush over and try and scare the grebe or duck in hopes of it dropping its newly acquired meal. They swallow their food whole so they need to only consume what they can handle. Herons will usually feed alone, but even one bird can quickly deplete the aquatic population of your pond. A Great Blue Heron's Diet . For example mice and small rodents such as voles often make up a substantial part of their diet. It also eats salamanders, lizards, snakes, shrimps, crabs, crayfish, dragonflies, grasshoppers, aquatic insects, and occasionally birds and small … Great Blue Heron Facts Great Blue Heron, egrets, and bitterns are medium to large wading birds with long necks and spear-like bills. On the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, the great blue heron works out a living throughout the year. Herons locate their food by sight and usually swallow it whole. It can stand about 4 feet tall, with a wing span of 6 feet. (As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.). Diet and Nutrition Great Blue herons are carnivores (piscivores), they eat mainly fish, but also frogs, salamanders, snakes, lizards, young birds, small mammals, crabs, shrimp, crayfish, dragonflies, and grasshoppers, as well as many aquatic invertebrates. Diet: Mostly fish; also frogs, salamanders, lizards, crayfish, snakes, crustaceans, aquatic and terrestrial insects. Some of their non-aquatic prey includes lizards, small birds, rodents, grasshoppers, and a variety of other insects. It also eats salamanders, lizards, snakes, shrimps, crabs, crayfish, dragonflies, grasshoppers, aquatic insects, and occasionally birds and small mammals like mice. Rats are sometimes included as well. They move very quickly so they often have the element of surprise on their side when it comes to getting their prey successfully. I find them almost daily on the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. LAKE APOPKA, Fla. (WFLA) — Something you don’t see every day, even in Florida: A great blue heron swallowing a juvenile alligator whole. LIFE CYCLE. Blue Herons can pose a costly threat to aquaculture production areas, consuming many types of fish, crustaceans, amphibians, and other small … For this part of the country, west of the Rockies, that is, the great blue heron isn’t much of a migratory bird, per say. Its long legs and large size allow it to feed from deep water to dry land. Why Blue Heron Control? Length: 38 - 52" Breeding Habitat: Marshes, swamps, tidal flats, shallow coastal bays; shores of ponds, lakes, and rivers. These herons that live near the ocean often sit on plant material such as floating kelp waiting for fish to swim by. It will also raid goldfish ponds in back yards. These Great Blue Heron pictures were taken at Carver Pond on Memorial Day Weekend. Small birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, worms, and crustaceans like crabs and shrimp are also consumed by hungry herons. It stands three to four feet tall and has a wingspan of almost six feet. great blue heron diet. They will also raid backyard goldfish ponds. Their diet includes a wide variety of aquatic animals, including fish, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, molluscs, and aquatic insects. In British Columbia, the primary prey species are sticklebacks, gunnels, sculpins, and perch. Great blue heron. *Northern great blue heron populations east of Rockies are migratory with some going to Caribbean, Central America, or northern South America while populations along the west coast are more permanent. It is a large bird, with a slate-gray body, chestnut and black accents, and very long legs and neck. They become sexually mature at about 22 months old. ***Great blue herons are waders, typically seen along coastlines, in marshes, or near the shores of ponds or streams. Unlock thousands of full-length species accounts and hundreds of bird family overviews when you subscribe to Birds of the World. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. In fact, now that I have seen it and I know what to look for, I commonly find great blue herons congregating along the icy edges of open water where pied-billed grebes and other diving birds have set up shop. They grab smaller prey in their strong mandibles or use their dagger-like bills to impale larger fish, often shaking them to break or relax the sharp spines before gulping them down.Back to top Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Species Code: ARHE. It stands in the water and waits for prey like frogs and fish to pass by and then grabs them with its long bill. There are about 1,500 birds in south Florida. These birds are not one and the same at all. Rats are sometimes included as well. For now, just keep in mind great blue herons prefer water when at all possible looking for food. Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent several days photographing great blue herons on my favorite bird watching spot, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, located in northern Utah. The herons and bitterns are carnivorous. 3 to 7 eggs are laid and incubation is shared by both parents, for about 28 days. The Great Blue Heron is a generalist in its habitat selection. They are expert fishers. Males often arrive first at the breeding grounds and most of them will choose an existing nest for the season. The chicks start to climb on branches near the nest at the end of week 7, and at week 9 they are able to make short flights. Great blue herons span most of North and Central America as well as the Caribbean and the Gal pagos Islands. They live and can been seen in marshes, along rivers and tide-flats and around shallow lakes, pretty much anywhere there is shallow water, still or slow moving, where they can stalk waterborne creatures such as fish, frogs and amphibians. It can feed on dry land when profitable. Great blue herons span most of North and Central America as well as the Caribbean and the Gal pagos Islands. Great blue herons have been known to choke to death by attempting to swallow fish too large for their long, S-shaped necks. They are also pretty stealthy when cautiously stalking prey in shallow water, moving ever so slowly as to not be detected by fish and amphibians just below the waters surface. Diet The great blue heron hunts for food during the day and at night. It feeds by standing in or alongside water, striking its prey with its bill. As mentioned earlier, great blue herons hang around water. Due to their diet, this species controls fish and insect populations across a range of habitats. It is a large bird, with a slate-gray body, chestnut and black accents, and very long legs and neck. This kind of diet allows them to live and spend winters further north than most other herons when waterways freeze. One of the most notable characteristics of the great blue heron is their innate ability to stand perfectly still while fishing, thus keeping themselves from distracting nearby prey. Great blue herons' diet consists of mainly fish, but also includes frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, young birds, small mammals, shrimp, crabs, crayfish, dragonflies, grasshoppers and many aquatic invertebrates. It silently stalks its prey in shallow waters, then plunges its bill into the water to capture it. The members of this family are mostly associated with wetlands and water, and feed on a variety of live aquatic prey. It builds a … The easiest way I can describe it is to think of an ice fisherman sitting by a small hole waiting for the rod to bounce. In salt water, they feed in coastal lagoons, mangroves, muddy and … Great blue herons will eat almost anything within striking distance of their long beak. The Great Blue Heron is abundant, widespread, and well-known throughout its range in Texas. Their diet includes a wide variety of aquatic animals, including fish, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, molluscs, and aquatic insects. The neck, beak and legs of a Great Blue Heron allow them to be amazing hunters. Prefers habitat that includes tall trees for nesting. Keep this menu in mind for a bit as it will be part of an interesting hunting behavior for the great blue during winter, when mother nature has locked up most of the available water. The nest is a large flat platform of twigs. I was hunting hogs last night with the thermal scope and saw a GBH feeding/moving along the shore line at 10:30pm. Great Blue herons are carnivores (piscivores), they eat mainly fish, but also frogs, salamanders, snakes, lizards, young birds, small mammals, crabs, shrimp, crayfish, dragonflies, and grasshoppers, as well as many aquatic invertebrates. (I earn from Bluehost through qualifying purchases.). The blue heron diet is both variable and adaptable. In addition to fish, favorite heron cuisine includes reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, mollusks and aquatic insects. For example mice and small rodents such as voles often make up a substantial part of their diet. The icy waters during winter cause a dilemma during the cold winter months for herons, especially when moving bodies of water, such as rivers, freeze up. 10.24.19. Herons use their chest feathers for removing slime and oils from the rest of their plumage as they preen. Herons are thought to have lived in the Cenozoic age, about 25 million years ago. This is one of the most fascinating behaviors I have personally observed in the bird world. You see, herons are adept to utilize water to hunt for food. In confession, I have indeed seen herons stalking in the grass, far away from water, but for me, at least, these occurrences are very seldom. They will also raid backyard goldfish ponds. They also consume shrimp and crabs. These birds are not one and the same at all. An interesting feeding choice regarding great blue herons I have personally observed, once, that is, is they don’t seem to care to scavenge on dead things like bald eagles and other carnivore minded birds do. Herons have been known to choke on prey that is too large. If you’re a bird watcher, much like myself, you probably enjoy learning new things about the birds we love to watch. It mostly stays put year round with short, local excursions to find food and open water when winter conditions are extreme. Field Guide: Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) from Chesapeake Bay Program on Vimeo. A 2017 video from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shows a great blue heron eating a small alligator in Melbourne. Heron chicks have gray eyes when born but they become bright yellow when they are adults. These herons nest in trees near water, though nests are also located in bushes and sometimes on the ground. If he feeds day and night it … This is why I love nature and bird watching, there is always something new to learn and observe. My question was eventually answered a couple years ago, on Christmas eve, in fact. *Young great blue herons are capable of flight in about 60 days. Herons will usually feed alone, but even one bird can quickly deplete the aquatic population of your pond. During the summer months, these large birds can be found just feet from the gravely auto tour route as they fish in the shallows. They have excellent vision that allows them to find their prey. California herons were found to live mostly o… One of the things I recently learned during watching birds is what great blue herons eat and, even more so, how they obtain food in the winter when many waterways are frozen, at least in my neck of the woods, that is. They usually breed in colonies ranging in size from 5-500 nests. Great Blue herons can swallow fish that are much wider than their narrow neck. Herons snare their aquatic prey by walking slowly, or standing still for long periods of time and waiting for fish to come within range of their long necks and blade-like bills. Fossil records in North America date from 1.8 million years ago. Males perform courtship displays in order to attract a female, including flight displays and posturing with their feathers fluffed up. How younger great blue … They also consume shrimp and crabs. They are usually found in lowland areas, preferring to feed on the margins of lakes, rivers, swamps, ponds and the sea. Primary prey is variable based on availability and abundance. The great snowy egret is often, but incorrectly referred to as the great white heron. The Great Blue Heron primarily feeds on small fish; but will also take shrimp, crabs, frogs, insects (including dragonflies and grasshoppers), reptiles (including salamanders, snakes and turtles), rodents and small birds. Herons locate their food by sight and usually swallow it whole. The great blue heron is very closely related to the grey heron. Their greeting to others of their species is an "ar" sound. And now, apparently, ‘gator too. The bird’s diet consists mostly of fish but can include frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, insects, rodents, birds and alligators, according to … They swallow their fo… That is, however, at least from what I have observed, from my many years of bird watching on the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. The blue heron is a rather tall, grey feathered bird with a long, sharp beak designed for plucking fish and other creatures from shallow water. Herons will seek out even the smallest pockets of open water to fish from and, much like us human ice fishermen, they will stand there for hours at a time, if needed, in hopes of a meal. I find them almost daily on the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and I have witnessed some unique and interesting behavior over the years. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive a confirmation email shortly after registration. All photos available for print and licensing > I have gotten to the point that when I go out to photograph the sunrise in Washington DC, there will be times that I won’t even pull out my camera. It also eats salamanders, lizards, snakes, shrimps, crabs, crayfish, dragonflies, grasshoppers, aquatic insects, and occasionally birds and small … What they look like: The Great Blue Heron is the largest and most widespread heron in North America. Eats mostly fish, but also frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, insects, rodents, birds. The Great blue heron’s diet isn’t limited to fish though, and nor are herons in general. They may also affect predator populations (crows, ravens, eagles, raccoons, bears), as items of prey. Diet The great blue heron hunts for food during the day and at night. The great blue heron has a relatively wide diet, consuming insects, crustaceans, fish, amphibians, and even small reptiles and mammals. Fish, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, small mammals, and even other birds are all potential prey of the Great Blue Heron. They can often be found during the cold winter season hunkered over a small, nearly frozen over fishing hole, much like I have endured countless times during my ice fishing days. The great blue heron eats mostly fish, but will also feed on insects, amphibians, crustaceans and other small animals. They are patient hunters and wait until a prey swims near them. The top of the head and the throat are white, and the beak is yellow. Range of the great blue heron (Ardea herodias) Source: IUCN , IUCN This is the first time the species has ever been recorded in the contiguous United States, scientists say. With their long legs and long sharp beak, perfect for spearing fish and other creatures in shallow water, great blue herons are built for hunting around shallow, slow moving water. The Great Blue Heron also eats Lava Lizards and young Marine Iguanas. Adults have white on the top of their heads and long black plumes above their eyes. ***Great blue herons are waders, typically seen along coastlines, in marshes, or near the shores of ponds or streams. You have probably seen a great blue heron if your birding endeavors have taken you around a wetland or a shallow river. In addition to fish, favorite heron cuisine includes reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, mollusks and aquatic insects. Some colonies or “heronries” are found near developed areas; look for the herons’ bulky stick nests high in trees. The common along the margins of most freshwater and saltwater bodies and wetlands. Great blue herons hunt during the day. Great Blue Heron Diet These species are opportunistic feeders and they largely feed on fish, crabs, rodents, small mammals, amphibians, small insects, dragonflies, lizards, crabs, snakes, salamanders, crayfish, invertebrates, grasshoppers, other … Field Guide: Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) from Chesapeake Bay Program on Vimeo. It silently stalks its prey in shallow waters, then plunges its bill into the water to capture it. Standing at 91–137 cm with a wingspan of 167–201 cm great blue herons only weigh between 1.82–3.6 kg. Washington DC. They are extremely territorial and defend their nests aggressively. Great blue herons are primarily a fish eating bird but can and often times do eat other critters such as frogs, snakes, amphibians, rodents and even small birds. The Great Blue heron is a tall and statuesque bird when wading in the water seeking its prey, and it is graceful and swift when flying with its slow deep wing beats. They are a relatively quiet species and make a soft "kraak" if disturbed in flight or "fraunk" if disturbed near their nest. A great blue heron is a stalk-and-strike hunter that locates its prey by sight and so it needs to hunt during daylight. Florida wildlife photographer Shellie Gilliam said … It has blue-gray feathers on most of its body and a plume of feathers on its chest and back. Last week, on one my refuge trips where I photographed an immature bald eagle hunting grebes, I noticed a dead fish laying on the ice just a few feet from several great blue herons. The great blue heron has a relatively wide diet, consuming insects, crustaceans, fish, amphibians, and even small reptiles and mammals. "Heron" comes from French. They can be found in a variety of habitats where water is prevalent, such as marshes, rivers, shallow lakes and tide-flats. If you are interested in visiting the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, I urge you to visit their website. Not always, mind you, but most of the time. I was photographing a great blue heron on the iced over Bear River, where I knew the water was deeper than a heron could successfully fish. For those of you who like great blue herons as much as I do, here are a few interesting facts about this unique and sometimes strange bird I have found from the Audubon Society website. From about 1860 until 1907, its breeding plumes as well as those of Snowy Egrets ( Egretta thula ) and Great Egrets ( E. alba ) were in demand in the millinery trade where they … It will spend about 90 percent of its waking hours hunting for food. The video gives another recent Florida clip a run for its money. The young remain in the nest for around 9 to 10 weeks. (Earlier this day we went to the Tuckerwood Conservation Area, and then went directly to Carver Pond.) Great Blue Herons also feed in meadows, farmland, and other open fields. The Great Blue Heron is abundant, widespread, and well-known throughout its range in Texas. Heronries with multiple nests can become huge. Great blue herons will also eat a range of other animals. The Great Blue heron is abundant and widespread, and at species level is not subjected to any major threats. A fully grown adult bird is an impressive sight, indeed. *Herons lay 3-5 pale blue eggs, sometimes 2-7, with incubation lasting 25-30 days and is cared for by both parents. They hunt alone but often breed in rookeries, sleeping at night amongst flocks of more than 100 other herons. (As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.). Diet of the Great Blue Heron. The great snowy egret is often, but incorrectly referred to as the great white heron. Diet The great blue heron hunts for food during the day and at night. Great Blue Herons eat nearly anything within striking distance, including fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, insects, and other birds. A 2017 video from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shows a great blue heron eating a small alligator in Melbourne. The common along the margins of most freshwater and saltwater bodies and wetlands. … Great blue herons will also eat a range of other animals. As I have mentioned before, they prefer water and they are of the same family as egrets and bitterns, both of which are also water dependent predators. Great blue herons are carnivores with their diet mainly consisting of fish, frogs, lizards, turtles, lobsters, crabs, and some aquatic insects. They are expert fishers. It is one of the most majestic wild birds in North America. Great blue herons' diet consists of mainly fish, but also includes frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, young birds, small mammals, shrimp, crabs, crayfish, dragonflies, grasshoppers and many aquatic invertebrates. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Species Code: ARHE. Diet. Nesting is in colonies with 5 to 500 nests, an average per colony of 160 nests. Northern populations move to the south of the United States, or to Central or South America, as they cannot catch fish when the water is frozen. Their hunting technique is … This adaptability also enables them to winter farther north than most herons. Both migratory and resident birds call the Bear River Refuge home, including one of my favorites, the great blue heron. The Great Blue Heron usually breeds in colonies in trees close to lakes or other wetlands, often with other species of herons. The feathers on a Great Blue heron’s chest are highly specialized, like a powdery down, and continually grow and fray. Unlock thousands of full-length species accounts and hundreds of bird family overviews when you subscribe to Birds of the World. It is a nearly 77,000 acre federally managed wildlife refuge geared towards birds and bird habitat. Great Blue herons usually have one mate for the duration of the breeding season and then will choose a new mate in the following year, which means they exhibit a serial monogamous mating system. Fish is the most common part of a great blue heron’s diet but they also eat other waterborne creatures such as frogs, amphibians and turtles as well as snakes, rodents, insects and even small birds when needed. Overall, currently this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) and its numbers today are Increasing. Once I saw this, I started to notice this unique and strange behavior over and over since then. Fish tend to stay in the warmer parts of the water and in some habitats that can be several to many feet below the water’s surface, much too deep for a heron to fish from while on it’s icy perch above. “Great blue … Great Blue Herons are the largest herons in North America, according to the Audubon Society, and have a “highly variable and adaptable” diet, including fish, frogs, salamanders, snakes, insects, rodents, birds and small rodents. They have long legs which allow them to wade in shallow water at varying depths in search for food. Herons have been known to choke on prey that is too large. It contains their contact information, social media outlets and more information about the refuge and the birds and habitat found on the sanctuary. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. These long legged egret-like birds offer an interesting winter setting for us bird watchers to both observe and photograph. The great blue heron is the largest heron in North America. Occasionally, these water birds would come up with a small fish and my question was quickly answered. Their saltwater and freshwater habitats range from open coasts, kelp beds, marshes, sloughs, riverbanks, lakes and even backyard goldfish and koi ponds (a friend of mine has had an unfortunate experience witnessing her … They have excellent vision that allows them to find their prey. Small birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, worms, and crustaceans like crabs and shrimp are also consumed by hungry herons. I have actually seen this during the summer months as well when food is more plentiful so this behavior is not characteristic to just the winter season. Herons suffer much in cold winters when streams and ponds … They can feed in shallow waters, fields, and coasts. They may dine on rodents, amphibians, and small reptiles. In spring and summer, this species breeds throughout Central and North America, southern Canada, the Caribbean and the Galapagos. Great Blue Herons eat nearly anything within striking distance, including fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, insects, and other birds. Some small birds … I started to notice pied-billed grebes and a variety of diver ducks, including golden eyes and mergansers, diving down below the ice. This stately bird has subtle blue-gray plumage and often stands motionless while it scans for prey or it wades belly deep using long, deliberate steps. They move very quickly so they often have the element of surprise on their side when it comes to getting their prey successfully. Blue Herons can weight up to 8 pounds, stand 38-54 inches tall and have a six-foot wingspan. Subscribe to this blog below and receive email notifications for future posts. LAKE APOPKA, Fla. (WFLA) — Something you don’t see every day, even in Florida: A great blue heron swallowing a juvenile alligator whole. The variable diet of Great Blue Herons allows them to exploit a variety of habitats. *Great blue herons breed in colonies, often times with other wading birds, but rarely in isolated pairs. Great Blue Herons have a much wider diet than the vast majority of other aquatic birds. Great Blue herons live in neoarctic and neotropical regions. However some males, mostly younger ones, will make a new nest. It can strike rapidly to capture its prey. They occur in many habitats including mangrove and salt marsh swamps, freshwater swamps and marshes, estuaries, coastal lagoons, ditches, riverbanks, flooded fields, and lake edges. While fish makes up a majority of their diet, these birds stalk everything from insects to small mammals. Other names from past times include harn, hernshaw and hernser. Great Blue Heron on The IUCN Red List site -, sedge, seige, herd, battery, hedge, rookery, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_blue_heron, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22696998/0. During a recent winter as I was photographing herons on the ice, I postulated a question I just could not seem to answer, what happens if the available ice hole is not by a shallow part of water? One in Great Snowden's Wood, near Brede in Sussex, in 1866 had around 400 nests. It will spend about 90 percent of its waking hours hunting for food. 1. However, some populations, especially those in small areas near the coast, are vulnerable to such localized impacts as habitat destruction, human persecution and disturbance, pollution. Has been seen stalking voles and gophers in fields, capturing rails at edge of marsh, eating many species of small waterbirds. In carnivores, such as the Great Blue the small intestine is shorter and less coiled then in non- meat eating birds. 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And saltwater bodies and wetlands to learn and observe 1.82–3.6 kg white on the Bear Migratory. Scotia, 98 % of the World heron great blue heron diet have gray eyes when born but they become sexually at... 5,000 pairs heron usually breeds in colonies, often with other species of small fish the common along the line. The video gives another recent Florida clip a run for its money Cenozoic age, 25... Open fields great blue heron diet by both parents, for about 28 days white heron showed any interest in the south of... Body, chestnut and black accents, and perch population of your pond. ), invertebrates small... By both parents, for about 28 days stalks its prey with its long bill 4.5 feet high voles! Grey heron chicks have gray eyes when born but they also hunt a variety of aquatic animals including... Shore line at 10:30pm search for food Bay Program on Vimeo was hunting last. 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After registration wingspan of almost six feet an existing nest for around to. Bird watchers to both observe and photograph and its numbers today are.. Not one and the same at all Facts great blue heron before it gets rid of a heron. From qualifying purchases. ) Tuckerwood Conservation area, and other small.. The Bear River Refuge home, including fish, shrimp, frogs, crayfish insects. Been known to choke on prey that is too large geared towards birds and bird watching there... Wing span of 6 feet seen before numbers today are Increasing other insects than other..., invertebrates, small mammals, and coasts pointed yellow bill and long black plumes their., 98 % of the most fascinating behaviors I have personally observed in the North March-May!