Sunday, July 18, 2010

Green Heron (Butorides virescens): Just Starting Out

This post was submitted for I and the Bird #130 which hosted at Count Your Chicken! We're Taking Over!
Go on over to read great posts on our feathered friends.

We drove up to Gilmer and Pickins counties in north Georgia to look for dragonflies and wildflowers. We drove by a pond south of Ellijay that W had found when he surveyed the area for Mountain Chorus frogs (Pseudacris brachyphona). It was a open pond in the winter but now it was full of cattails. There were dragonflies but no way to get close.

We were about to drive on when we noticed this bird. It looked like it was sitting on the top of a cattail. It was actually sitting on a stronger branch. It was gazing down into the water below it. I only had a chance for one shot before it dropped down into the water. It looked like a heron.

A closer view of the bird. It looks like a young Green Heron (Butorides virescens). It was young enough that downy feathers were still visible around its head and its flight feathers have not fully developed.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:
The Cornell Institute of Ornithology - All About Birds: Green Heron (Butorides virescens)


Larry said...

Wow John, what a great find. I'm surprised you didn't see any other Green Herons around, being that this bird was that young. I've seen Green Herons still at the nest site with less down than that!

JSK said...

I was a little surprised that there weren't more around too. I looked, but it was late afternoon and we were looking towards the west - into the direction of the sun. It was a fairly small pond, relatively speaking, with a lot of cattails.
The little guy did look quite comfortable. Although I didn't get more than one shot, I was watching it. It seemed to know what it was doing - looking intently into the water below for food.

Mike @ Slugyard said...

Nice find! I don't think I've ever seen one- we see tons of Great Blues though.

JSK said...

Mike, in my experience Great Blues outnumber the Greens 5 to 1. The GBs really can't avoid being seen. They're much bigger and hunt in the open and move relatively slowly. Young Greens are about 1/4-1/3 the height of the Blues. They are somewhat shy. I've rowed about 3m from the shoreline and been startled when I realize there's a Green on the shore watching me - hope I won't see it. When they're hunting, they're more agile as they move in the shallows - often crossing or along fallen branches. They blend into the background and you might not seem. The movement of their yellow legs is often the first thing to give away their position.

Mike @ Slugyard said...

Thanks for the info- I'll have to keep my eyes out for them. A new quest!

JSK said...

Good luck!
They're a real treat when you find them. If they're intent on hunting they're less likely to spook.
I'm still intrigued by the youngster in this post. Probably too young to be aware of danger or just demonstrating what I said above. :-)