Green Heron     Butorides virescens

Rarely seen in the open, this colorful heron can be spotted in salt marshes as well as freshwater areas and occasionally on docks and floats.  It is the smallest member of the heron family in our area only growing up to 18 inches in height.  The top of the head and back are a dark green.   The brown neck is commonly folded against the back but is thrust out when grabbing prey.

A patient hunter, the Green Heron commonly waits motionless for small fish to swim close.  However it is quite unique in using feathers, twigs, earthworms or insects dropped on the water surface to attract fish, making it  one of the few tool-using birds.  It also eats other small animals such as insects and frogs.

Wintering in the southern United States and as far south as Central America, it does breed in our area.  The nest is a basket of sticks in a small tree or bush with immediate access to water.  Eggs are incubated for 21 to 24 days with both adults feeding the young until they leave the nest in about a month.

When flying it resembles a crow, however the wing beats are slower and the curled neck provides a different body outline.