A city’s heroes arrive in strange forms. Nobody could have expected, for example, that an unassuming alligator nicknamed Chance The Snapper would arrive in the summer of 2019 to become one of Chicago’s most notable citizens. And surely nobody thought that New York City would find itself in awe of a great blue heron that took a literal bite (or bill-stab and swallow) out of the rat population last Sunday.
The still-unnamed blue heron rose to fame when, exercising some extremely low Sunday brunch standards, it gulped down a waterlogged rat on camera. The above video was tweeted out by Manhattan Bird Alert, which fulfilled the promise of its account’s title by posting footage of the heron enjoying some soggy rat carcass in Central Park, helping control the city’s rodent population in the process.
“It took the Great Blue Heron only a few seconds to lift the rat, once killed, out of the water and swallow it,”atweet dutifully explains before showing us exactly what that looks like in practice.
In an article written in tribute to the city’s new pest control hero, Gothamist spoke to David Barrett, the man behind the account, about his stirring short documentary. He spotted the bird “just before 10 A.M. on Sunday” on “the east side of Central Park Pond” and explains that “it’s unusual to see a great blue heron eat a rat, and something that I had never seen before, despite watching nature most days for over 10 years.”
We also learn that New York City’s hero bird is “likely very young” based on the dark color of its crown and that it belongs to a species that, like our own, “will eat whatever they can kill and swallow.”
The bird’s youth is good news since it means that the heron’s career as an iconic pest muncher is only just getting started. For 2021, however, the rat catcher is likely just about done with its work. Great blue herons migrate south during the fall where, we hope, they get together to discuss all the weird shit they ate and perhaps share news that wet rat is pretty delicious.
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