blue heron

Encyclopedia Article


The great blue heron is a large water bird native to North America. It can be found in saltwater as well as freshwater habitats, and is quite common in the Southwest, along riverbanks, marshes, and lakes.

In the Navajo creation myth, the First World (or underworld) was completely dark, with a small island in the middle of four seas. The Heron was one of the supernatural beings who was in charge of one of the seas. The other three rulers were Big Water Creature, Frog, and White Thunder. The Heron is also associated with the Second World, which is characterized by the color blue. Finally, Heron is the creature sent back into the underworld to fetch witchcraft, an ambiguous bundle of powers that can be employed for good or bad reasons, at the behest of First Woman and First Man.

Photo Credit: 

"Blue heron at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, November 28, 2013" by Larry Lamsa is licensed under CC BY.