About The Grosbec


The Grosbec is a Night Heron, and as the name implies - has a very large bill. It migrates from Mexico and South America to Louisiana every Spring, where it occupies Tupelo and Cypress swamps, and builds nest of sticks at variable heights - some of which are always low enough to be reached by thrown objects. Clay - mud balls, dried in the sun were the objects of choice during the Great Economic Depression (1920’s to 1938 or later in Louisiana) when Cajuns (like everyone else) had no money to buy shot gun shells. Grobecs lay 3 to 5 eggs which hatch in a staggered sequence, and the hatchling that matures first and is ready to fly, usually stands on the edge of the crowded nest or onto a branch, and becomes the easiest to knock down with a mud ball - hence the French phrase, on va les nique` - “we will nest them”. Selective harvesting like this, never threatened the well being of Grosbec populations, cause the smaller fledglings were always left to mature. During the time of the Depression - an International Treaty to Protect all Migratory Water Fowl became The Law. Since the Grosbec is a wading bird, it also acquired the same protection as ducks and geese. But, Grosbec cuisine was well  - entrenched into the Cajun culture; and those living on Bayou banks or House boats had backyards full of wild game, fish, crawfish, waterfowl and herons - all free for the taking. Cajuns had learned how to prepare Grosbec, compatible to chicken or duck and goose cuisine. Harvesting fledglings with a mud ball was probably learned from the American Indians, and also the knowledge that young fliers will readily decoy to the call of their parents - hence another Cajun saying, faire siffler un Grosbec - “whistle him back”. For many years - well into the 1950’s, enforcement of the Water Fowl Treaty seemed lax in many parts of Louisiana, especially as it applied to Grosbecs. Suppers were common at hunting camps and the gatherings frequently included elected Officials and even Clergymen, who had no knowledge of the “new” Waterfowl Laws. It took clandestine raids on such suppers by Federal Game Agents in the late 1950’s and 60’s to enforce the Migratory Law, before Louisianans finally realized that taking Grosbecs was really against the Law. The steppy - dance lyrics included herein, The Grosbec Two-Step, documents that part of our history, and to our knowledge Grosbec suppers are no longer a part of Cajun cuisine.


C’est la Veritié


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          -  Maurice Lasserre