Facts and Habits of the Striking Green Heron
Some Kind of Wonderful
The smallest of the heron tribe, the Green Heron(sometimes called the Green-backed Heron), may nest in solitude or in a rookery with others of their kind. They build platforms of dry twigs to hold both their eggs and young, sometimes close to the ground and near a stream, but sometimes at a distance of a quarter mile or higher than ground level. The Green Heron often appears more blue than green, and even black at a distance. It patrols the smallest ditches, the most twisted creeks, generally feeding early as well as late in the day on an almost endless variety of animal food: frogs, worms, insects, fish, snakes, and mice.
A Handsome Specimen
This heron looks similar to a crow while in flight, but it has a thicker neck. The flight pattern is in a straight line, with slow, steady arched wing beats. It is widely distributed, found in nearly all wetlands in the summer. The Green Heron has a dark cap ending in a shaggy crest, with a chestnut to red-colored head and neck.
As a diurnal(daytime) species that retires to the ground or close to it for the night, it often walks slowly when hunting, or stands and waits motionless in water or an overhanging perch for prey to come close enough for a quick strike. They have been seen placing food or bait in the water deliberately to attract fish, and often perch in trees and shrubs.
When disturbed, it often nervously flicks its short tail and elevates its handsome crest.
These birds frequent ponds, streams, marshes and lakes. They also have a direct propensity to doing their own fishing. I have seen a couple of them toss pieces of bread or seafood shells in the water in order to attract fish, which works very well. These birds are very self-sufficient and bright.
Brooding and Nests
These birds are monogamous, and usually found in solitary pairs. They have one or two broods per year, and are fed by both parents. Some will migrate, and the population is common and stable.
The nests can be 5-30 feet off the ground, and are built by both sexes. There are generally 2-7 eggs in a clutch.
As you can see, these birds have the characteristic green, even at such a tender age. As with all herons, half of the fledglings don't survive due to predators and lack of experience before they even make it to yearlings.
Each Bird is Different
There are a couple of these gorgeous birds on Boomer Lake, one very friendly and the other just the opposite. I once was photographing a female Red-Winged Blackbird, when one appeared out of nowhere and called to get my attention. As you can see from the photos, they have a striking and beautiful appearance, therefore easy to identify.
A General Factoid
The Green Heron wanders after breeding season ends. Most of them likely seek better foraging areas and do not travel far, but occasionally some travel greater distances, with individuals turning up as far as France or England. Now, is that a surprise about a bird that is single?
© 2012 Deb Hirt