Green Heron

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Common Name: Green Heron
Scientific Name: Butorides virescens

Size: 16-18 inches (41-46 cm)

Habitat: North and Northern South America; Winters mostly in coastal areas, especially mangrove swamps. Breeds in swampy thickets. Forages in swamps, along creeks and streams, in marshes, ponds, lake edges, and pastures.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: unknown.

Diet: Insects, frogs, and small fish. They typically stand still on shore or in shallow water or perch upon branches and await prey. The Green Heron is one of the few tool-using birds. It commonly drops bait onto the surface of the water and grabs the small fish that are attracted. It uses a variety of baits and lures, including crusts of bread, insects, earthworms, twigs, or feathers.

Nesting: Green Herons are seasonally monogamous. The pairs form in the breeding range, after an intense courtship display by the males which select the nesting sites and fly in front of the female noisily and with puffed-up head and neck plumage. They nest in forest and swamp patches, over water or in plants near water in small, loose colonies. Nest a basket of sticks, placed in small tree or shrub, usually over water. Nest locations in trees are preferred.

The clutch is usually 2-6 glossy pale green eggs which are laid in 2-day intervals. After the last egg has been laid, both parents incubate for about 19-25 days until hatching, and feed the young birds. The frequency of feedings decreases as the offspring near fledging. The young sometimes start to leave the nest at 16 days of age, but are not fully fledged and able to fend for themselves until 30-35 days old. Sometimes - particularly in the tropical parts of its range it will breeds twice a year.

Cool Facts: The Green Heron's call is a loud and sudden kyow; it also makes a series of more subdued kuk calls. During courtship, the male gives a raah-rahh call with wide-open bill, makes noisy wingbeats and whoom-whoom-whoom calls in flight, and sometimes calls roo-roo to the female before landing again. While sitting, an aaroo-aaroo courtship call is also given.

The species is most conspicuous during dusk and dawn, and if anything these birds are nocturnal rather than diurnal, preferring to retreat to sheltered areas in daytime.

Found in Songbird ReMix Shorebirds Volume II: Herons and Bitterns

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