Green Heron & Blue Damsels

Green Heron pano


For anyone not familiar, the Green Heron (Butorides virescens) is a small (16 – 18 inches) wading bird that can be found throughout much of the U.S. along creeks and rivers or at ponds, lakes, marshes, swamps and even pastures. Finding the immature bird in the above photo probably isn’t too hard… but at a distance they are extremely cryptic and even up close they can be hard to spot if they’re standing still.


photographer & hidden Green Heron


Now, why would I include this photo?  Well, because I thought it was amusing. This woman was diligently taking photos of a turtle sunning on the edge of the pond in front of her. Unseen from her vantage point was the stealthy heron lurking in the foreground several feet away. Can’t see it? *Click on the image if you’re in need of some assistance.*

Of course the heron has good reason to skulk quietly and slowly in the partial shadows at the water’s edge… Much of its diet is comprised of small fish. Actually, it is one of the few bird species known to use bait in order to capture its fish prey. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website: “It commonly drops bait onto the surface of the water and grabs the small fish that are attracted. It uses a variety of baits and lures, including crusts of bread, insects, earthworms, twigs, or feathers.”

The Green Heron is also known to eat frogs, insects and other invertebrates. While hanging out at El Dorado Regional Park last weekend, it was my extreme pleasure to get to watch one immature heron hunting damselflies. The vegetation around the ponds was rife with bright blue and pinkish damselflies. Rarely can I recall seeing so many damsels in one location. Time after time we watched this bird snap at the air and at plant edges. From what we observed, it had a pretty high rate of success, catching damsel after damsel and gulping them down. The fact that I caught a few of these captures on film was just marvelous! *Be sure to click on the images to see more detail.*


Green Heron searchingSearching… searching…


Green Heron & damselsHmmmmm… damselflies above and below…


Green Heron nabbing damselGot one!!


Green Heron nabbing damselIt’s a bit tough to see in this photo, but if you click to see the bigger image you can just make out the blur of a struggling damsel in the heron’s mouth and one flying dangerously close just above its head.


Green Heron & shadowI love how long and tall this heron looks next to its squat little shadow…


Green Heron looking greenIn some lighting it can be hard to tell why the Green Heron is so named. Immature birds are not as brightly colored as the adults, but in this photo, you can get a feel for the iridescent greeny-blue head and wing feathers that gave this bird its moniker.

All of these photos were taken during our day trip to El Dorado Regional Park where we were quite entertained by our observations of one (or possibly two) of these immature heron. I leave you with this parting image…


Green Heron wading

Harsi / June 7, 2011 / arthropods, birds


  1. Chris - June 8, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

    These came out really good Harsi! This guy was really fun to observe. And of course, I can’t forget it flying nearly straight into us on the bridge. Haha. On a somewhat unrelated note, I just noticed that this post, I believe, marks exactly one month since you started doing these daily blogs and I don’t think you’ve missed a day; congrats! I know I for one wouldn’t have lasted half that long. It’s always a pleasure reading these.

  2. Harsi - June 8, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

    Hi, Chris… HA! Yeah, wouldn’t it have been fantastic if I’d been quick enough on the draw to get a pic of that heron flapping mid-air in front of us??! Oh well… I was pretty happy with what I did get and was quite surprised to see how many damsels were visible in the shots — I really couldn’t tell what I was shooting at the time, so it was basically just dumb luck. Hey, you’re right! It has been a month since I made my “deal with the devil”… just kidding, of course, it’s not as bad as all that! *GRIN* But I am proud of myself for keeping it going because it’s been a struggle on many days. Thanks so much for the encouragement and kind words, Chris. It means a lot to me and I love that you enjoy my blog.


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