Reader’s wildlife video

This is a stupendous feat of ingestion, and so I’ll put it up by itself. The video was shot by reader Rick Longworth, who calls it, accurately, “Big Gulp.” His notes:

Here we see a green heron (Butorides virescens) downing a good sized bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) near Poughkeepsie, NY. This is my first attempt at digiscoping. I used a Vortex Razor spotting scope and a Olympus Tough camera. My adapter was home made out of plastic until I get the right parts and camera system.

Be sure to put it on full screen (click on “vimeo” at lower right and then enlarge), and note how the heron dips the frog in water repeatedly, presumably to lubricate it for the journey down the gullet:

Look at that distended crop! I bet it didn’t eat again for a few days.


  1. Ken Elliott
    Posted November 13, 2017 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I love how the heron keeps dipping the frog in pond sauce before finally deciding to gulp it down.

    • Patrick
      Posted November 13, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      The phrase “pond sauce” was the highlight of my day. I just wish it had wider applicability.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 13, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Probably the heron’s favorite food.

  3. Joseph McClain
    Posted November 13, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    And that famous cartoon, “Never give up,” in which the frog is choking the heron while being swallowed.

  4. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted November 13, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    That is impressive. I am wondering why the frog is not struggling. Maybe it was whacked a few times first.

    • rickflick
      Posted November 13, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      I did not see the actual capture, but my wife saw the heron fly over the water, grab the frog, land on the log and commence to snapping it to death before I had a chance to bring my equipment over to the site for the finale. I hope, next spring when the herons return, to record the complete process.

  5. Posted November 13, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    I once saw a great blue heron capture a frog that I estimate to be even larger (body, without legs, fully as long as the herons bill – about 8-9 inches I would say). Unfortunately, he moved out of sight without swallowing, so I did not see how (or even if) he managed to get it down.

    • rickflick
      Posted November 13, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      Sounds impressive. The blue heron is much larger than the diminutive green(body length is about 44 cm (17 in)). I saw a clip on Youtube showing a blue heron swallowing a full sized muskrat.

      • nicky
        Posted November 13, 2017 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        Saw a black necked heron doing the same recently. Swallowing an unidentified mammal so big I thought it would be impossible, several times the size of it’s head, but it went down… can herons ‘unhook’ their beak’s base, like snakes?

  6. Heather Hastie
    Posted November 13, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Wow Rick! What a great catch for your first outing! Very cool indeed.

    • rickflick
      Posted November 13, 2017 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Heather.

  7. Posted November 13, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Great flick, Rick! Thanks for sharing it.

    Great blue herons would hunt for goldfish from the pond at our old house. The fish were so big that, not infrequently, our neighbours would find a half-eaten carcass atop their gazebo.

    • rickflick
      Posted November 13, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps there were other predators coming by at night. Raccoon perhaps? I haven’t seen a heron carve it’s meal. It’s always whole and head first.

      • Posted November 30, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think the raccoon could get these big goldfish, as the pond was deep in the middle and required the stealth of a heron. Perhaps it was a young heron or one on its second fish or perhaps the neighbours scared it off. We know for sure we had lots of herons trying to claim the pond, as we’ve witnessed a couple snatching fish and flying off when someone ‘released the hounds’ (our big dogs). :-/

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