At a busy park this morning there was a bird who doesn’t like to be seen, a Green Heron.
There were pigeons, ibises, cormorants and a variety of ducks in and around the large pond at Indian Riverside Park, and many people walking or sitting. But this Green Heron was not into the park scene.
He flew to a smaller pond away from the people and other birds. I followed.
From a distance, the Green Heron is a dark, stocky bird hunched on slender yellow legs at the water’s edge, often hidden behind a tangle of leaves. Seen up close, it is a striking bird with a velvet-green back, rich chestnut body, and a dark cap often raised into a short crest.
Green Herons usually hunt by wading in shallow water, but occasionally they dive for deep-water prey and need to swim back to shore—probably with help from the webs between their middle and outer toes.
Green Herons are common and widespread, but they can be hard to see at first. Whereas larger herons tend to stand prominently in open parts of wetlands, Green Herons tend to be at the edges, in shallow water, or concealed in vegetation. Visit a wetland and carefully scan the banks looking for a small, hunch-backed bird with a long, straight bill staring intently at the water.
And nearby, look for a medium-sized woman hunched over her camera staring intently at a wading bird.
There, it raised its crest briefly.
Green Herons also have much longer necks than you realize when you look at them in the typical “hunched” position. See the photo at the top of this post for the neck-extended view. Up periscope!