They are beautiful, fast, and the HANDS DOWN Green Herons are the comedians of the heron species. Their spastic moves are FAR from graceful, and the goofy sounds they make just further adds to the entertainment value they offer you.
Generally speaking, when paddling or boating up a creek, cast your gaze to the downed trees in the water and at the shoreline. (I was kayaking for this certain birding adventure.) As these are the PERFECT spots to observe one, you should pay close attention. Because they blend in by color with the scenery, and stand as still as a statue, you could easily miss seeing them altogether. (That is, until they spot something in the water close to where they are perched. Then, sit back…the first ACT of their play will commence shortly!)
A Few Facts About Green Herons (Butorides virescens)
These facts will help you know what to look for, and where to observe Green Herons:
- 16 – 18 inches tall
- 25 – 26 inch wingspan
- 8.5 ounce weight
- Short, stocky. When excited, the dark green crest on its head may go up.
- Likes small bodies of water. (Ponds, lakes, marshes, small streams, creeks and swamps)
- perches just above the surface of the water to look for food
- Prefers to dine on on small fish, crustaceans, tadpoles, aquatic insects, and aquatic plants in secluded places
- Gives a skyew! or Skyow! or series of kuck! sounds
- strongly migratory, so check bird guides for your area on when and where to view them.
Observing Green Heron Behavior
It will jerk its head at an angle, then stoop its small robust little body it has closer down towards its feet. A Green Heron will stare intently into the water with the precision of a sniper at the food it hopes to spear with its beak. Then, you will see it begin the CRAZIEST of stances…head in a v-shape aimed at the water, then COMPLETELY stretch their entire body straight out into a line before diving its head into the water…Tail feathers up in the air, too. It’s GREAT!
This particular Greenie was perched ever so still on this humongous downed tree into the creek. Scoping out EVERY limb and branch on this tree for a Mr. Wiggly, and finding none, I slowly, gently drifted my kayak into the branches of the downed tree. The heron stood still looking at me. My trusty Nikon was sitting on ready on a beach towel in the floor of my kayak. I just hoped I could spend enough time with this goofy little bird long enough to grab some great photos before it took flight. But no matter how leery, immediately, I put my shutter into “go mode”… Success!
Fishing in Action, Green Heron Style!
As can be seen, what a great few minutes you can have watching them feed. Just be quiet with no sudden moves, and you, too, can see what the Green Heron is all about!
Given these points, no wonder the American Birding Association chose the Green Heron as “Bird of the Year 2015”. They’re incredible little birds. Everyone just loves them. And you will, too!