Previous posts in the marsh birds series-
In the Marsh Birds series I’ve looked at some usually hard-to-find birds. In this installment, I’m taking a look at the second most common Heron in Ohio (after the quite common Great Blue Heron).
I took these pictures back in 2011 at the Honda Wetlands in the late summer, which was a fantastic and uncommon opportunity to see marsh birds up close due to the shrinking water level. I’ve seen Ohio’s second most common Heron multiple times since then, but never so close or with such good photographic conditions.
What a handsome bird! Larger than the Rails that hide in marshy cattails, with a prominent beak and legs- a Heron, though it looks like the Great Blue Heron’s smaller cousin. This is a Green Heron, which spends the summer in the eastern half of the US, and wintering in sunnier places to the south.
Normally one might happen upon one of these birds along the shore of a creek or river, a pond or lake, sitting motionless waiting for a fish or other creature to happen by. This particular day, there were several Green Herons in the shrinking water of the Honda Wetlands and the normally solitary birds were a bit exasperated with each other. They would occasionally vocalize like the above bird, perhaps complaining about being crowded.
This bird lunges quickly for some food. Green Herons have been known to use fishing lures such as twigs or insects to catch fish- pretty sharp! And its one of the few birds that do this.
It may be a minnow, but eat enough of them and it makes a meal! They also eat insects.
The bill on this bird species is impressive. It is usually used to grab food, but it occasionally spears its prey.
Look at the toes on that bird. Adapted to wading in shallow water, Green Herons will occasionally dive into deeper water looking for food.
It takes swiftness and accuracy to catch small fish- they are so quick its hard to get a picture of them striking.
This bird scratched its chin- looks almost thoughtful…
These birds have a distinctive look when flying. In flight, look for their striped throats to differentiate them from other marsh birds such as Bitterns.
They sometimes perch high up in trees- this one has its crest raised.
Last but not least- back in the water, here’s a quick shot of a dispute between two Green Herons. One is flying off away from the cranky victor. To be fair, these birds are most often seen singly, being more of a solitary type. Nerves were frayed by having to share a small place to dine. I’ll give them a pass on this, I’ve felt this way myself on occasion!