Green Heron
Butorides virescens
Family Ardeidae

A fairly common but seldom seen marsh resident, this small, shy wader generally bides its time hunched on a log or rock near the water’s edge.

Identifying Traits (both sexes):

  • Straight, spearlike black bill
  • Neck a deep chestnut color above, pale off-white below
  • Body bluish-green above, pale off-white below
  • Shaggy, black crest
  • Relatively short, yellow-orange legs
  • Flies with neck hunched up against body; bowed wingbeats distinctive.
  • Juvenile: Neck is streaked below, back is paler and brownish
  • Size: 51 cm (20)
  • Weight: 210 g (7 oz)

Voice: The green heron’s call is a rhythmic series of cuck sounds, rather like someone tapping a hollow pipe with a stick.  When startled into flight or agitated, green herons may respond with a loud skyow!

Habitat: The green heron favors relatively secluded or overgrown shores near streamsides, swamps, marshes and lakes.

Range: The green heron can be found throughout eastern North America as far north as southern Maine throughout the spring and summer, though it often moves south to Florida and the Gulf Coast during the winter.


Interesting Facts: Some people believe that the green heron and the striated heron (Butorides striatus) of Africa and Asia comprise one species, the “green-backed heron.”



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