The Travels of Tug 44

Green Heron

The Green Heron is a small fishing bird, about the size of a pigeon ... on stilts. They look a lot like their much larger Great Blue Heron cousins. The name comes from a greenish sheen on their feathers during breeding season, as this one is displaying during April. She's fluffed up a bit in the cold, the water had thawed only the week before.   high-res

This Green Heron is standing at the edge of the water, waiting for a fish or other small critter to swim by. They are one of the most intelligent birds there are, they can use tools! They will go fishing and use a small feather or leaf or even a bit of bread to attract fish.   high-res

In cold weather as in the previous photos their neck is folded up against the body, but they can extend the neck about a foot. Their fishing technique involves striking like a snake and their bill is so sharp they often spear fish with it.   high-res

Having feathers means the Green Heron must preen them, which involves spreading oil all over them to keep them clean and water-proof. And a good scratch of the chin always feels good.   high-res

After preening is finished, this Green Heron is stretching her wings. It must feel good after standing motionless for an hour.   high-res

When flying a short distance, a Green Heron may not fold up its neck, which gives them a front-heavy appearance.   high-res

This Green Heron has just caught a bullfrog. I was standing on the bank of an old abandoned canal and the bird was on the other side. Suddenly she spotted the bullfrog directly in front of me and flew right at me, speared the frog and returned to the other side. Here she is beating the frog against the branch to end any resistance, and then she swallowed it whole. Herons can expand their throats dramatically and swallow large prey with ease.   high-res

The Fort Edward swamps are full of various types of Dragonflies, and if they fly too close of a Green Heron, the Heron will grab them and eat em. This one is Blue Dasher Dragonfly, and apparently they are tasty.   high-res

In most cases, Green Herons are hunting for small fish. This one has grabbed a large minnow which it will swallow whole. When they catch fish larger than this, they often spear it with their sharp bill. All catches are swallowed whole.   high-res

Another Green Heron has caught a Dragonfly, yumm yumm!   high-res

This Green Heron is very young, just a few months old, but it is already flying and self-sufficent. This one was catching some tiny minnows about an inch long, but it caught about 15 of them in 10 minutes. Immature Green Herons can be recognised by the streaks on the sides, instead of fine lines making boxes as with the adults.   high-res

The immature Green Heron is catching a tiny minnow in this photo, the neck is stretched out for the catch.   high-res

The Green Heron, the smartest bird in the swamp.

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