Green Heron

Hey guys welcome back! Today we have one of North America’s smallest herons, the green heron! Typically more secretive than other herons, you’ll often find them along pond shores amidst dense vegetaion. When I lived in New York, I was always happy to spot one because I just didn’t see them all that often. Sure they were common enough, but, in Central Park for example, I’d only ever see one maybe two at a time. I was fortunate though to get really close looks at them, and while “green” may not be the first color that comes to mind when you see one, when the sunlight catches them right, you can see why they get their name. Their back, and head are a beautiful, dark glossy green, which contrasts nicely with their chestnut-brown neck and breast. Once upon a time, the green heron, along with sister species the Galapagos heron and the striated heron were all lumped together as the green-backed heron. They’re considered separate species now, and when I look at the three side by side, I don’t think they really look alike, at least not in terms of coloration.

Green Heron1
Green heron extending his usually tucked-in neck, Forest Park, St. Louis, MO

Like I said, when I lived in New York I would see one or two every summer, but when I lived in St. Louis it was a whole different story! The first day I went birding in Forest Park, I saw no less than a dozen green herons in the course of like an hour! I had never seen so many green herons in my life! So, yeah, they are quite common in the St. Louis area. Likewise here in northern Ohio, they are plentiful. In the larger scale, they are common throughout the summer in the U.S. east of the Rockies, and along the Pacific Coast, while spending their winters in Central America and the Caribbean.

Juvenile green heron hunting, Sheldon Marsh, Huron, OH

Breeding season can be interesting from a birder’s perspective. While they are wading birds, and feed on fish primarily, they can sometimes nest a half-mile away from water! In fact this past spring, I was waiting for the bus just outside Forest Park in St. Louis, and saw two fly into a tree right there! Seemed so out of place. A few weeks later, I saw fledglings in a tree near the Missouri History Museum! I mentioned they do like fishing, in fact they even “bait” for the fish. They will drop insects, or small sticks, or even bread crumbs to attract fish! Clever girl! Next time, we’ll head back to the world of warblers for one of the most brightly colored species, the prothonotary warbler! See you then!

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