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.

I fish because I love to.

Guide's Rest at Dawn

Guide’s Rest at Dawn, photo by mickey-finn

“I fish because I love to. Because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful, and hate the environs where crowds of people are found, which are invariably ugly. Because of all the television commercials, cocktail parties, and assorted social posturing I thus escape. Because in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing what they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion. Because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed, or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility, and endless patience.

Because I suspect that men are going this way for the last time and I for one don’t want to waste the trip; because mercifully there are no telephones on trout waters; because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness; because bourbon out of an old tin cup always tastes better out there; because maybe one day I will catch a mermaid; and, finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant – and not nearly so much fun.

― Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman

Robert Traver was the pen name of Ishpeming native John D. Voelker. Voelker was a Michigan Supreme Court Justice, renown fly-fisherman and author. Anatomy of a Murder was made into one of the best courtroom dramas of all time. The film was set and shot in Big Bay, Marquette, Ishpeming and Michigamme. Voelker was heavily involved in the production of the film. He appears in the trailer, and you can watch the movie in its entirety on YouTube.

View Mike’s photo of Guide’s Rest on the Au Sable River bigger and see more in his Fly Fishing slideshow.

PS: I don’t always thank the people who make suggestions for Michigan in Pictures posts, be they intended or accidental. One of my 2014 resolutions is to share more of myself and the family & friends who love this state as much as I do. One of these is John Di Giacamo, an attorney who shared a tiny bit of the quotation that still holds so much relevance. Thanks John!