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Critter of the Quarter: Green Heron

green heron
Photo by Hank Fabian

The Green Heron (Butorides virescens) is a small, stocky bird with a daggerlike bill. Despite its smaller size, the Green Heron is known for its exceptional hunting skills and ability to patiently wait for prey. One of the few tool-using birds, the Green Heron, drops “bait,” insects, earthworms, or small twigs, on the surface of the water to lure in small fish, its primary food source. It also hunts for amphibians, crustaceans, rodents, and insects.

This solitary bird has a greenish-black cap on its head with a reddish-brown thick neck that is often drawn into its body. Unlike most herons, the Green Heron doesn’t typically nest in large colonies. They prefer to nest as an isolated pair or in small groups with both parents incubating and caring for their young. The young can first fly around 21 to 23 days old.

The Green Heron can be found in wetlands and is a common resident of Moorhen and McNabney Marshes.

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