Gone fishin’ with a Green Heron

Green Heron and Frog by John Heintz

GREEN HERON, photo by John Heintz, Jr.

The entry for Green Heron (Butorides virescens) at All About Birds says (in part):

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. They sometimes lure in fish using small items such as twigs or insects as bait.

Some Fun Facts…

  • The Green Heron is one of the world’s few tool-using bird species. It creates fishing lures with bread crusts, insects, earthworms, twigs, feathers, and other objects, dropping them on the surface of the water to entice small fish.
  • Like many herons, the Green Heron tends to wander outside of its breeding range after the nesting season is over. Most of the wanderers stay nearby as they search for good feeding habitat, but some travel long distances. Individuals have turned up as far away as England and France.
  • Green Herons usually hunt by wading in shallow water, but occasionally they dive for deep-water prey and need to swim back to shore—probably with help from the webs between their middle and outer toes. One juvenile heron was seen swimming gracefully for more than 60 feet, sitting upright “like a little swan,” according to one observer.
  • The oldest Green Heron on record was 7 years, 11 months old.

Read on for more, with various Green Heron calls including the attack call. The Michigan Bird Atlas shows Green Heron distribution in the state.

View the photo bigger and see this heron’s fishing technique in John’s amazing slideshow. FYI, it doesn’t end well for the fish.

Many more Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures.

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