Sneaking up on a small heron

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I stalked a stalking bird this morning. I spy backyard bird #55, a Green Heron.

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This stealthy little bird has been fishing and hunting around the muddy edges of our pond for a week or so, according to my husband who has been spotting it off and on.

This morning I left my husband and dog inside and tiptoed through the woods to the pond.

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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.

I first saw and photographed one in the Everglades a couple of winters ago, along the Anhinga Trail. Photos HERE.

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Cool fact from Cornell Lab of Ornithology…

The Green Heron is one of the world’s few tool-using bird species. It creates fishing lures with bread crusts, insects, earthworms, twigs, feathers, and other objects, dropping them on the surface of the water to entice small fish.

I will keep an eye out for that!

Green Herons eat mainly small fish such as minnows, sunfish, catfish, pickerel, carp, perch, gobies, shad, silverside, eels, and goldfish. They also feeds on insects, spiders, crustaceans, snails, amphibians, reptiles, and rodents.

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Nicely camouflaged.

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.

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We are in a drought right now and the pond is the lowest level it’s been since we moved here 18 years ago. I hope some rain comes soon to replenish.

House sale update: we may be under contract soon.

Anhinga Trail

green heron

Green Heron in the Everglades.

These small herons crouch patiently to surprise fish with a snatch of their daggerlike bill. They sometimes lure in fish using small items such as twigs or insects as bait.

Lots of birds and some (slow and quiet) bird watchers on the fabulous Anhinga Trail, off the main park road early in the morning on Thursday, February 26.

Photo album: Anhinga Trail

anhinga nest

Anhinga nest with chicks! I believe the adult bird on the right is the female.

A bird of southern swamps, the Anhinga is known as the Water-Turkey for its swimming habits and broad tail, and also as the Snake-Bird for its habit of swimming with just its long head and neck sticking out of the water.

cormorant

Cormorants have turquoise eyes!

white ibis

White Ibis.

Native American folklore held that the bird was the last to seek shelter before a hurricane, and the first to emerge afterwards. The bird was thus a symbol for danger and optimism.

kestrel

Spotted a kestrel at the south end of the main park road, in Flamingo.

North America’s littlest falcon, the American Kestrel packs a predator’s fierce intensity into its small body.

I could spend days and days in the Everglades.