Bird of the Week: Green Heron

From a distance, the Green Heron is a dark, stocky bird hunched on slender yellow legs at the water’s edge, often hidden behind a tangle of leaves. Seen up close, it is a striking bird with a velvet-green back, rich chestnut body, and a dark cap often raised into a short crest. These small herons crouch patiently to surprise fish with a snatch of their daggerlike bill. The Green Heron is one of the world’s few tool-using bird species; it often creates fishing lures with bread crusts, insects, and feathers, dropping them on the surface of the water to entice small fish.

This small heron is solitary during most seasons and often somewhat secretive, living around small bodies of water or densely vegetated areas. Seen in the open, it often flicks its tail nervously, raises and lowers its crest. Visit a wetland and carefully scan the banks looking for a small, hunch-backed bird with a long, straight bill staring intently at the water. Green Herons are also distinctive in flight, with slow beats of their rounded wings making them look a bit like a tailless crow. Their habit of often briefly unfolding their neck during flight helps make them recognizable, too.

Compiled using information from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.
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