Green Heron & Blue Damsels
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.
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.*
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…