The Green Heron (Butorides virescens) is a small heron of North and Central America. Butorides is from Middle English butor “bittern” and Ancient Greek -oides, “resembling,” and virescens is Latin for “greenish.
It was long considered conspecific with its sister species the Striated Heron (Butorides striata), and together they were called “green-backed heron.” Birds of the nominate subspecies (no matter which taxonomic arrangement is preferred) are extremely rare vagrants to western Europe; individuals from the Pacific coast of North America may similarly stray as far as Hawaii.
The Green Heron is relatively small; adult body length is about 44 cm (17 in). The neck is often pulled in tight against the body. Adults have a glossy, greenish-black cap, a greenish back and wings that are gray-black grading into green or blue, a chestnut neck with a white line down the front, gray underparts and short yellow legs. The bill is dark with a long, sharp point. Female adults tend to be smaller than males and have duller and lighter plumage, particularly in the breeding season. Juveniles are duller, with the head sides, neck and underparts streaked brown and white, tan-splotched back and wing coverts, and greenish-yellow legs and bill. Hatchlings are covered in down feathers, light gray above, and white on the belly. [Wikipedia]
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. [All About Birds]
Green Heron Facts [All About Birds]
- 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.
- The Green Heron is part of a complex of small herons that sometimes are considered one species. When lumped, they are called Green-backed Heron. When split, they are the Green Heron, the widespread Striated Heron, and the Galapagos Heron.
- The oldest Green Heron on record was at least 7 years, 11 months old when it was found in Mexico in 1979. It had been banded in Oklahoma in 1971.