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Facts and Habits of the Striking Green Heron

Updated on July 22, 2014
Green Heron
Green Heron | Source

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.

Green Heron
Green Heron | Source

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.

Green Heron
Green Heron | Source

Habits

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.

Green Heron
Green Heron | Source
Green Heron Chicks
Green Heron Chicks | Source

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.

Green Heron
Green Heron | Source
Green Heron
Green Heron | Source

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?

Green Heron
Green Heron | Source
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© 2012 Deb Hirt

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    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, gamby, they are. I hope to catch one of them fishing.

    • gamby79 profile image

      gamby79 5 years ago

      The Green Herons are beautiful birds. Another great hub of yours. Always enjoy your stories and learn something new whenever I read your hubs. Rated all up!!!

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Fred! I hope that I can see a roadrunner soon, but never realized that they had such odd personaliities.

    • profile image

      Ghost32 5 years ago

      Interesting bird. I can see a couple of similarities to the roadrunner (which you said I might), especially in the raising and lowering of the crest and the fact that they can do amazing things with their necks. :)

      Voted Up Plus.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      KrisL, I hope that you get to see them...they are so beautiful, especially in a nice morning light. My pictures can't do them justice, especially when that crest is raised.

    • KrisL profile image

      KrisL 5 years ago from S. Florida

      Great photos . . . they show you how different the bird can look at different stages of life, and even in different postures (neck up, neck down).

      I'll keep my eye out for them . . . there may be one near where I work her in Florida.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      They will do that, Angelo. One of the city workers was picking up trash where Green Heron was today. He complained at the intrusion and flew off.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Appreciate what you have said, bdegiulio. Yes, they are great birds.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Cathhleena, for being so supportive.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Jackie, I finally just got on here. I will look at your hub momentarily.

    • Angelo52 profile image

      Angelo52 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I met a Green Heron once at a Park near the ocean. He went fishing but the fish were not biting so he shook his head, hopped on the rail and flew off.

      Good info on your article and nice photos too.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Deb. I remember seeing a Green Heron down in Florida and not knowing what it was until my nephew informed me. Beautiful bird. Great job.

    • Cathleena Beams profile image

      Cathleena Beams 5 years ago from Lascassas, Tennessee

      Awesome hub - And you are right, they are "some kind of wonderful"! Amazing photos too. Voting up, beautiful, awesome, interesting, useful and sharing!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I haven't heard of a turkey vulture but I put both at the very bottom of my Mount Pilot hub if you get a chance in the next few days to take a look. Don't think anyone goes there anymore. I made them large and that one thing is just a dead leaf as you can see in the red bird picture. If you are too busy, no problem.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      M, you would definitely like Green Heron. Not only is he great looking, he has personality.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Great pictures Deb. Green heron sounds so fascinating.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      They're pretty big, but do you think it was a turkey vulture?

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      No it wasn't that, this bird had nothing on its heat and was really kind of ugly. It only had a hint of red but there was a dot or something around its face that was red, on the one anyway.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Jackie, was it a Pyrrhuloxia? The only other thing that I can think of is that sometimes male cardinals pull out their feathers when they eclipse.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Nell. I was surprised when I found out that they went to Europe, too.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      They are almost like people sometimes, aren't they and these are so beautiful as your others. I got a shot of something through my screened back porch a few days ago not real clear but looked like small buzzards. I thought at first it was red birds and red birds did come later but the first ones had the color of a female cardinal but the ugly head of a buzzard but they were really small if they were.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Fascinating hub about the green heron, I didn't realise that they can fly as far as England, but such a lovely bird, voted up and sharing with hubs, nell

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Not a prob, Cyndy! I really enjoy this bird and can't wait to get a pic of him fishing with his own provisions.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Beautiful pictures, beautiful hub. I'll have to look for this heron on my next adventure near water. These birds are beautiful and I'm so glad you're imparting this information for us. :)