Green Heron

Butorides virescenes 

By Ginny Young 

The Green Heron is the most widely distributed of all herons. This interesting bird can be found in parts of Canada, in northern parts of the United States, and as far west as the Great Plains. The Green Heron is of a medium size, with chestnut coloring on its sides, a brown-black bill, shaggy green and black cap, yellow eyes, and legs that can be yellow or orange. The smallest of these herons is eighteen to twenty-two inches long, and can have a wingspan of up to twenty-six inches wide. The Green Heron appears dark and almost "crow-like" while in flight.

You can find the Green Heron living on the muddy outskirts of ponds and salt flats at low tide. This type of bird is well suited for this type of environment because of its long walking legs. It is very territorial on it's feeding ground. The Green Heron will wait motionless for long periods of time in order to catch its prey, which consist of minnows, goldfish, bass, eels, crickets, dragonflies, and even earthworms. The Green Heron can survive in saltwater or in freshwater. It is diurnal and only feeds during the day. This bird avoids becoming something else's prey by secretively wading underneath the cover of trees along the shoreline.

The Green Heron does pass through Virginia when migrating north. This bird migrates at night, arriving in North Carolina in late March and in Montreal in April.

One attribute the Green Heron possesses is its unique and very distinctive call. This may come out sounding something like skeow-skeow. It is often times referred to as a "skeow". Another common nickname of the Green Heron is "fly-up-the-creek."

The Green Heron, with its distinctive coloring, long legs, and unique call, is a truly remarkable bird.

Written fall 2000, as a service learning project for Dr. Gary Coté's Biology 102 class at Radford University. Copyright Pathways for Radford.

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