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17 March 2011

Green Herons

Green HeronOne of my favorite birds of Arizona is the Green Heron (Butorides virescens).  As I've talked about before with other Herons, many 'outsiders' are surprised to find such a strong heron population in the desert southwest.  While I don't think there are more herons here than in other areas of the USA, I do think they are easier to find since they are drawn to the relatively few water sources.

The photo at right is of an adult from the Gilbert Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ.  Female and male Green Herons are nearly indistinguishable.  They average around 18" length, though often appear much smaller when crouching with their neck coiled.

Green Heron
Green Heron
The picture at right is somewhat atypical of where a Green Heron would normally be seen.  They are best spotted on shorelines, often on low overhanging branches, waiting for small fish to swim by (see photo below).
Green Heron
Green Heron on Man-made Lake Edge



Part of my love of the Green Heron comes form an experience I had at Gilbert Water Ranch in May of 2007.  The ponds all had very little or no water, and the Egrets and Herons had to share close quarters.  I found a small clearing in some vegetation surrounding the pond, and crouched down and waited. 

After a few minutes, a Green Heron took a few steps out of the brush just about 5 feet away from me. It proceeded to go on a fishing bonanza as I watched and attempted to photograph it.  I was so close my lens hardly would focus - I had to lean back on my heals to get a few extra inches away.

Green Heron with fish
Green Heron with fish

5 comments:

  1. Based on my visits a few years ago and my recent visit to the Gilbert Water Ranch, my records indicate that the number of Green Herons is increasing there. I was surprised to see so many. I'll be back in the Phoenix area for meetings at the end of April. I think'll visit my old stomping grounds on the Salt River near Mesa for a little birding. Granite Reef, Phon D Sutton, and Coons Bluff recreation areas.

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  2. Those are all great places to visit. I live south of Phoenix and don't get many opportunities to hit those Salt River spots (about 75-90 minutes away). If I have 90 minutes or more, I tend to gravitate to the SE Arizona hotspots. Maybe when the kids are a bit older I'll take them to a picnic at Granite Reef and get some birding in on the side. :)

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  3. Fantastic pictures. They are stunning birds.

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  4. Thank you for these beautiful pictures of the Green Heron. My son is doing a fourth grade science project on the green heron, and we are learning so much..

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