Fri Mar 2023

Young Green Heron

I’m sure my presence at the open window or the clicking of my camera, more than 100 yards away, was what startled this young Green Heron. I had opened the window slowly without scaring it off, and was feeling a degree of self-satisfaction on that score. As soon as I started shooting, however, it flew away. I see now I’ll have to photograph these small, reclusive herons through the glass in future.

This is a first-year juvenile, indicated by the brown and white streaks on the its underparts, along with beginnings of the dark, adult crest. (You can see the details more clearly by opening the full-screen slide show, as explained below.)

Green Herons were more common on the pond years ago, longtime residents tell me. In an old Audubon Water Bird Guide, dated 1951, I found this supporting statement:

This is the most widely distributed of all our herons. Usually every brook or pond has a pair, and it is common in any extensive marsh, whether fresh or salt.

A remarkable but apparently little-known trait of the Green Heron caught my eye in Wikipedia, while I was prepping for this post:

Sometimes they drop food, insects, or other small objects on the water’s surface to attract fish, making them one of the few known tool-using species. This feeding method has led some to title the Green and closely related Striated Heron as among the world’s most intelligent birds.

I’ve had better luck capturing the small Green Heron during the split second it takes to get airborne, than its much larger cousin, the Great Blue Heron. Why, I’m not sure. Is the bigger bird quicker? That said, the lift-off photos here are disappointing. Fast as it was, my shutter speed was still not fast enough to stop the action cold. Ah well, a lesson learned.