A photographer has captured the incredible moment a Great Blue Heron devoured a freshly-caught New York City rat at Central Park Pond this morning.
The image shows the magnificent bird bending into the still green water with its breakfast – a very unfortunate rat – still in one piece, paws dangling helplessly outside the heron’s beak.
David Barrett, who took the picture, is an avid birder and photographer.
He told The Independent: “I saw the Great Blue Heron as I approached the east side of the Central Park Pond (near 60th and Fifth Avenue) and snapped the photo quickly, as I realized the heron was eating something. In a few more seconds the bird had swallowed the rat.”
Mr Barrett runs the popular Twitter account Manhattan Bird Alert, where bird enthusiasts swap info about rare and interesting sightings in the borough and share nature photography.
He posted his snap this morning, with the caption: “Great Blue Herons eat plenty of fish, but they won’t pass up a meaty and filling New York City rat—this morning at the Central Park Pond.”
He later added video footage of the meal, showing the heron swallowing the rat down whole in just a few speedy gulps. Mr Barrett wrote: “It took the Great Blue Heron only a few seconds to lift the rat, once killed, out of the water and swallow it.”
The images quickly circulated on Twitter, with observers commenting that rats are a favoured snack for urban herons on both sides of the pond.
Every Heron posted “That’s a filling meal! Urban Herons do love a good tasty urban rat. Grey Heron seem to eat lot on London parks... Perhaps cos the rats scamper around the edge of the water exactly where the herons spend most of their time.”
Another user, NAPNYC posted their own snap of a heron eating a rodent in Central Park earlier in the week, captioned: “A great blue heron was having lunch at the #CentralPark Loch earlier today.”
Twitter user Grace responded: “Incredible photos. Beautiful. Beautiful heron. Beautiful rat. Stunning”
New Yorkers, who have been plagued by a surge of rats since the pandemic, were quick to shower the heron with congratulations for ridding the city of even just one.
I’m a mirrorball posted: “Can he come to my block because boy oh boy do I have a literal buffet for this mans.”
Watch: Blue heron hanging out in the water