Bird Bio: Green Heron PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lisa Duke   
Tuesday, 25 June 2013 19:25

If you are coming to visit the Sanctuary and want to do some birding, now is a great time to come and see a variety of bird species! As the Avian Care Intern, one of my jobs is to perform a weekly bird survey. I take an hour-long walk along one of our many trails and try to count as many bird species that I hear or see. One of my favorite walks is the Lake Loop Trail because I usually get to see a variety of bird species including various waterfowl. An interesting bird that I have been frequently seeing along the marshy ponds on the Lake Loop Trail is a Green Heron.

Green Heron waiting for fish on the shore

Green Heron watching for fish along Wintergreen Lake

Green Herons live in marshy wetlands by streams or small ponds, so the Sanctuary is a great place for it to take up residence! They can be very hard to see because they usually sit atop a branch that hangs over open water and remain motionless until an unsuspecting fish gets too close. Their feathers are also colored in a way that makes them blend into their surroundings. The Green Heron is a dark shade of green/blue and they have a red brown colored throat. The coloring of the Green Heron is an example of cryptic coloration, which means that they can blend into their surroundings and avoid predation. The easiest way to spot a Green Heron is to look for their bright yellow legs. Other than that you may have to wait until the Heron moves in order to spot it.

Green Herons are very skilled ‘fisherbirds’ and have adapted to hunt their prey using tools. Much like a fisherman uses a fishing rod and a hook to catch fish, the Green Heron will use twigs and insects to help lure in small fish so that it can catch them! Not many other birds have learned to use this way of catching prey and that is why the Green Heron is so unique and a great find.

We suspect that the Green Heron is nesting somewhere in the marshes along the Lake Loop Trail and that is why we have been seeing it so frequently. Green Herons build basket nests made of sticks in small trees or shrubs that usually are on the edge of or hang over a wetland or body of water. They usually have a clutch of two to six eggs that are pale green in color. Come and walk the Lake Loop Trail and catch a glimpse of this unique bird!

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