Herons are less gregarious heron than many heron and egret species, and at times, are quite shy and
difficult to approach. Green Herons are generally solitary, nesting as
isolated pairs or small groups, never in the large breeding colonies of
other herons and egrets. Despite their more solitary nature, they are a
quite common species throughout much of the eastern half of the United States.
be found in nearly any aquatic habitat, but prefers small water bodies with both
dense emergent vegetation and open water.
Diet: Mostly small
fish. Also crustaceans, frogs, tadpoles, insects, and small rodents.
Behavior: Primarily forages by standing perfectly
still, and striking when prey moves within range. Will also walk
slowly through the shallows in search of food.
Nesting: May and June. They often are solitary
nesters, or sometimes nest in small groups. The nest itself is a platform
of sticks, placed in a tree or shrub. The female usually lays between 3 and 5
eggs, and both parents help to incubate them. When the eggs hatch, both
parents help to feed the young. The young may fledge as early as 3 weeks
after hatching, but typically remain in the care of the parents for a few weeks
Song: Crisp skeeow
in flight. Can also give a low irregular series of clucking notes.
Migration: Summers throughout most of the eastern half of the United States, near the West
Coast, and in scattered locations elsewhere in the West. Winters near the
U.S. West Coast, the Gulf Coast, Mexico, Central America, and South
America. Some southern and western populations in the United States are
of Green Heron are generally stable to increasing. The species may be increasing its range to the north
and west. The
IUCN lists the Green Heron as a species of "Least Concern".
South Dakota "Hotspot": The Madison Waterfowl Production Area, just to the west of Lake Madison, is a
wonderful place to see these sometimes shy birds out in the open. Water in
the WPA is generally very uniformly shallow, allowing Green Herons to forage
well away from the shoreline vegetation which often hides there presence.
In the spring, late summer and early fall, it is also a wonderful location for
viewing Great Egrets, American
White Pelicans, various shorebirds,
Common and Forster's
Gulls, Great Blue Herons, and the
occasional Snowy Egret.
Whatbird.com: Green Heron
Photo Information: August 1st, 2008 - Dewey Gevik
Nature Areain southeastern South Dakota - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Green Heron photos.