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Green Heron Hunting

Do whatever you do intensely. —Robert Henri

I encountered this Green Heron — one of my favorites in our wetlands — perched high in the beautiful cypress trees, stalking its dinner during the approaching dusk. He sat with such intense focus (that face!), that I admired in silence for the entirety of his watch.

But this guy wasn’t just watching; he was most likely waiting. Green herons will often drop bait onto the water’s surface — including live insects, berries, twigs, or feathers — to attract fish. The more curious the fish…the more likely they’ll be dinner at the quick thrust of the heron’s sharp bill. This hunting technique, and use of tools, has earned Green Herons the well-deserved distinction as one of the world’s smartest birds.

When I hear their signature kuk or kyow, I search for these shy guys and their moppy crowns, in the hopes of catching them hunting. Click here to listen to their calls!

Green Heron hunting in the wetlands… FOCUS!

Green Heron eyes a meal in the wetlands… PATIENCE!

39 Comments Post a comment
  1. I nominated you for the Super Sweet Blogging Award. 🙂 Congratulations! Beautiful post, by the way. I’m so jealous of your photography!

    http://stayforaspell.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/2-awards/

    August 21, 2012
    • Congrats on the award — and THANKS!! (For the nom and for the kind words!) I’m very lucky to be surrounded by these lovely models, hee! 🙂

      August 21, 2012
      • Thank you, and I’m glad to have passed on the award to such a deserving recipient. 🙂 I think your models help, but it’s your talent with the camera that really helps them shine.

        August 21, 2012
      • You’re so very kind… ♥✿♥!!

        August 21, 2012
  2. Pam #

    What a beautiful scene – just gorgeous!

    August 21, 2012
    • It really was lovely…. I cropped the scene to highlight the heron, but the cypress and the swamp, oh my! JUST GORGEOUS.

      August 21, 2012
  3. Pam #

    It is wonderfully lovely with the beautiful cypress as a backdrop for this pretty heron.

    August 21, 2012
  4. They actually drop bait?!? Amazing. Beautiful photos, as always.

    August 21, 2012
    • Thanks so much!

      Isn’t that amazing? One of the few tool-using birds (similar to crows). But to use that tool to FISH…!

      August 21, 2012
  5. Where’s the “love it” button? 😀 The color!! Wow!

    August 21, 2012
    • Aw, you’re so sweet! It was a magical scene… I LOVE cypress trees — and while I cropped the image to highlight the heron, the whole scene, with the swamp, the trees, and the bird, was just perfect.

      August 21, 2012
  6. Beautiful!

    August 21, 2012
    • Thanks so much! I love these little herons… 🙂

      August 22, 2012
  7. Wow, that’s breathtaking! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    August 21, 2012
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this little guy as much as I did… They’re such gorgeous herons (and I didn’t even include a shot of his ruffled mop-top!). 🙂

      August 22, 2012
  8. I loved the look of concentration on the heron’s face. I had no idea that they used strategies to lure fish to them. Now I wonder if each innovates its own lures or whether its “cultural” in the sense that the use of specific lures is taught from parent to child.

    August 21, 2012
    • Isn’t that face *amazing*?! That’s what caught my eye, too… The complete look of focus, concentration. Very interesting point, too — whether they pick any ol’ lure available in their environment, or learn it from past generations. I’ve heard many species have innate learning and tracking mechanisms built-in at birth; perhaps this is one of them?

      August 22, 2012
  9. Ok… love the shots and a really cool back story,but why is called a ‘green heron’??? 🙂
    I see purple and green… never knew birds hunted that way…thanks.

    August 22, 2012
    • Heh!! Thanks…. When you see them, there is an overriding deep green sheen. But there are many types of herons and egrets — and even those that border the line of heron/egret — so perhaps they just had to give it a label! I always try to catch one in the process of “baiting” — and here, I think I *just* missed it… He was waiting for his catch!

      August 22, 2012
  10. narhvalur #

    Reblogged this on Ann Novek–With the Sky as the Ceiling and the Heart Outdoors.

    August 22, 2012
    • Thank so much for sharing this wonderful, smart little heron! 🙂

      August 22, 2012
  11. Val #

    Your photos are beautiful, alas I’m not overfond of herons as the local one ate all our Koi. 😦

    August 22, 2012
    • Oh no!!! Don’t they know to stay away from the extra-fancy pretty fish?

      August 22, 2012
  12. Wow – so gorgeous!

    August 23, 2012
    • These aren’t the best images to show off this lovely little guy, unfortunately! I just loved the concentration on his FACE. 🙂

      August 23, 2012
  13. HI! nominating you for the sunshine award! http://witchsweb.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/sunshine-award/

    August 23, 2012
    • Thank you so very much for the nomination!! ♥✿♥

      August 24, 2012
  14. I love the setting in these images. And I had no idea this species actively “baits” fish so I learned something new.

    August 24, 2012
    • Thanks! I cropped the image, to highlight the heron and his concentrating face… But the bigger scene, with the cypress and water was just lovely.

      I usually catch them at this point — perched and actively focused on a specific point, fishing. They don’t wade and search like other herons (as much). But sadly, I’ve never caught one in the *process* of baiting!

      August 24, 2012
  15. Beautiful photos! I would love to get to see them first hand!

    August 25, 2012
    • Thanks! They’re some of my *favorites* — so very colorful, quirky, shy, and SMART! I always miss them in the baiting process unfortunately, and catch them at this point — watching that one specific spot so intensely… 🙂

      August 25, 2012
  16. gregjoder #

    beautiful photos! =0)

    August 25, 2012
    • Thanks so much! I love these colorful, quirky, shy and smartie little herons. 🙂

      August 26, 2012
  17. that is a stunning bird – made even better by your brilliant photographs!

    August 30, 2012
    • Aw, so many thanks! It was a beautiful scene that I cropped — the cypress, bird, and waters. I just wished I had seen the little smartie-pants baiting the fish! 🙂

      August 30, 2012
  18. Bella Remy Photography #

    Had no idea these herons laid traps fit the fish. Brilliant!

    Wow downloaded the new ios6 for my iPhone and this is where it put me. Weird. BUT these photos are spectacular !

    September 24, 2012
    • How STRANGE! It put you here? What’s it trying to say…???

      Aren’t these guys crazily brilliant? Considered some of the smartest birds, I guess, with this baiting activity…

      September 25, 2012
      • I thought so too ! Anyway, it is cool as I watched a youtube video with one with a piece of bread that kept putting it in the water, then taking it out baiting the fish. Last grab was the fish!

        September 25, 2012
      • That’s insane. I have YET to nab one in action… It’s always right after they drop the bait!

        September 26, 2012

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