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Wetland Smarties

Usually our Green herons are very shy and difficult to spot, patient and motionless as they are in our wetlands — their  signature kuk or kyow calls are heard more often. [Click here to listen to their calls!] But when I do hear them, I search in the pond apple trees and cypress for their moppy crowns, in the hopes of catching their fascinating hunting process.

Green Heron, Florida Wetlands

Green heron close-up, pre-hunt

These guys have always been one of my favorites in our wetlands — perched high in the beautiful cypress trees during the approaching dusk. And the smarts on these little herons! 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 end up as dinner at the quick thrust of the heron’s sharp bill. I’ve often seen them snap off twigs and leaves for bait, carrying it to secretive hunting areas.

Green Heron, Florida Wetlands

Focus! Focus!

Green Heron, Florida Wetlands

I will find you….

This hunting technique, and their use of tools, has earned the Green heron the well-deserved distinction as one of the world’s smartest birds.

Green Heron, Florida Wetlands

A moment of rest

Green Heron, Florida Wetlands

I am so lovely, yes?

Green Heron, Florida Wetlands

Preparing for the hunt

Part of:

71 Comments Post a comment
  1. Pam #

    These birds are so beautiful! A favorite of mine too.

    February 4, 2013
    • It was difficult to achieve the coloring on all these guys — I snapped them all at deep dusk! But their feathers are just lovely. Such fascinating little herons!!

      February 4, 2013
      • Really enjoyed hearing about the heron’s use of lures, and this is a terrific series of photos. Do you do much post-processing? I’m sure that a little time spent with a photo editor could make these colors pop even though they were taken at dusk. But as I said, they are terrific photos as they now are.

        February 4, 2013
      • You’re very kind… I honestly don’t do post-processing. I have GIMP, but I have no idea how to use it! Hah! Little good THAT does me! It’s on my to-do list — LEARN GIMP!!! I even have the “For Dummies” book in my queue. Great! 🙂

        February 5, 2013
  2. jimbey #

    …. Green Herons are so smart, they know how to avoid my camera! I only have a few (accidental) shots of these critters. Your shots are simply amazing! Atta Fey, Girl!

    February 4, 2013
    • Hahahah!!!

      I was REALLY lucky with these guys (two separate instances) — they were both somewhat close by, relatively speaking. Usually they’re pretty tucked into the branches, as you obviously know, heh!!

      Thanks so much. 🙂

      February 4, 2013
    • Green Herons are so smart, they know how to avoid my camera!

      LOL.

      February 4, 2013
      • jimbey #

        …. L.O.L.??? It’s a great tragedy in my life! The Green Herons aren’t all *that* smart, though; they know I’m coming because the Moorhens tip them off. Whenever the Moorhens see me coming, they all start laughing at me (hear them here -> http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/464/_/Common_Gallinule.aspx ), so all the really cool birds are long gone by the time I shuffle and stumble down to the water’s edge. 🙂

        February 4, 2013
      • I enjoyed hearing the moorhens laugh, but I might feel differently if they were laughing at me. You have my sympathies. 😀

        February 4, 2013
      • jimbey #

        …. and BTW, I just started following you and Bob. I’m an Ohio boy (Holmes County) from way back, and look forward to reading your posts.

        February 4, 2013
      • Thanks, jimbey! Everybody keeps telling me that Killbuck Marsh in Holmes County is a great place to do bird watching. I’m hoping to visit there this spring.

        February 4, 2013
      • You’ll REALLY enjoy their blog!! Sorry I didn’t make the Ohio connection… The images, the detailed posts — it’s FANTASTIC!!! I’m not an Ohio gal and I love their stuff as a hiker/naturalist type… 🙂

        February 5, 2013
      • jimbey #

        …. Ohio is MUCH more enjoyable (when viewed from Florida) 😀 … Sorry – I went WAY off topic. Green Herons are cool; Green Herons are wise!

        February 5, 2013
  3. Utterly brilliant shots – sharp and detailed – wonderful

    February 4, 2013
    • Thanks so very much! I was VERY lucky with these guys, since they weren’t quite as hidden as they tend to be… And I took advantage of their open hunting!

      February 4, 2013
  4. Excellent shots of a very elusive species of bird!

    February 4, 2013
    • Thanks so much! I was very lucky to snag not one, but two, nearby hunters… They’re usually tucked away fairly well! Quite elusive, as you say. Such fascinating guys.

      February 4, 2013
      • Yes, they are fascinating, I have a post on them finished and in the cue to be published later this week. I have started a project I’m calling my photographic life list, where I plan on doing a post of photos of every species of bird that I have on my life list. So, I hope that you won’t mind if I end up with a post that is almost exactly like yours.

        February 4, 2013
      • WOW, that’s quite a project!! I wish I could attend to something like that… I can’t wait to see your images — how could I mind, when these guys are free to roam our wonderful world? 😉

        February 4, 2013
  5. Beautiful Christina! Thanks! 🙂

    February 4, 2013
    • Ah, thanks!! I love these guy, I’m glad I could share. 🙂

      February 4, 2013
      • I know you LOVE sharing that stuff. 🙂

        February 5, 2013
  6. Their fishing skills amaze me. Smart birds indeed.

    February 4, 2013
    • They’re really amazing little guys — and I love their coloring. These were all taken at deep dusk, and don’t do them justice, unfortunately!

      February 4, 2013
  7. Such incredible photographs. They are simply awesome. I didn’t know that the Green Heron dropped bait for the fish. My word, that really is a very clever bird!

    February 4, 2013
    • Thanks so very much! Aren’t they amazing? Very similar to corvids — crows and ravens — in this regard. Bird-brained, indeed. 🙂

      February 4, 2013
  8. What delightful shots!

    February 4, 2013
    • Thank you!! I love this guy — the coloring’s not as complimentary as it could be, since it was late dusk. But they’re such fascinating critters!!

      February 4, 2013
  9. I learn such cool stuff from your posts. And your pictures are always amazing. Thanks.

    February 4, 2013
    • Ah, how wonderful — that’s the best thing you could ever say… 🙂

      Thanks so very much!! I was thrilled to find this usually-elusive guy somewhat nearby, so I took full advantage of his proximity (and hopefully didn’t annoy him too much while he was hunting)!

      February 4, 2013
  10. Created ~ Create.it #

    Beautiful shots!

    February 4, 2013
    • Thanks so very much!! I was lucky, and thrilled, to get as close as I did to these usually shy guys…. 🙂

      February 5, 2013
  11. Fantastic shots of the always amazing little greenie!

    February 4, 2013
    • Thanks so much! I was just thrilled that they decided to hunt a bit closer than usual…. 🙂

      February 5, 2013
  12. It is always hard shooting at dusk in the dim light and trying to get their beautiful coloring! I share your pain!! Great shots of these fiercely intense little hunters even so! I had a big misunderstanding when taking some pictures last year. I saw a nest with some pretty blue eggs in it with a Louisiana heron leaning over it with its sharp bill pointing in. A Green Heron was nearby squawking frantically. I thought the Green Heron was trying to get at the Louisiana Heron’s eggs. I took a few pictures of all parties and went on to explore other areas. Returning to that nest a little while later, it was the Green Heron I found dutifully sitting on the nest and not the Tri-color. So I had it backwards. I do not think those eggs survived though as there never were any hatchlings from that nest. Survival is always a fight.

    February 4, 2013
    • Oh nooooo! Poor green girl. 😦 Survival in nature is so tough to witness — we’re so very spoiled. It’s a constant battle, it seems. No wonder I’m always learning how to live in the moment from these guys….

      The ultimate irony — the best shots at deep dusk! I need to learn GIMP. It would help with making the colors pop, I’m sure. But I REFUSE to use my fancy flash out there when it’s needed. Refuse. One of those ethical things for me… I’m in their world, and I really don’t want to make them anxious by having lightning flashing in their faces, for the sake of a silly picture.

      February 5, 2013
      • I’ve never tried flash either though I’ve thought about it. Given the distances I have been curious how much difference it might make. Though I’ve never said never, I’ve had a similar reluctance.

        February 5, 2013
      • I have a detachable flash, which would reach fairly far – but I really don’t believe in scaring the crap out of them, causing them anxiety, while they’re trying to settle in for the evening. That’s my take on wildlife photography — be as gentle and unassuming as you can *possibly* be in their universe.

        Unfortunately, that’s not what many believe or adhere to. Far from it….

        February 5, 2013
  13. I particularly liked the first shot with the front view. Nicely done.

    February 4, 2013
    • Thanks so much! That’s my personal favorite, too… Very intimate. They’re such beautiful birds.

      February 5, 2013
  14. Love the intensity, which seems to be a heron trait. They are all ferocious hunters.

    February 4, 2013
    • You’re very right… It does seem to be a heron trait! So delicate, poised, ethereal — and simultaneously, the perfect hunters.

      February 5, 2013
  15. These green heron shots are FANTASTIC!

    February 5, 2013
    • Thanks so very much! I was thrilled that these guys came as close as they did for their hunting…. They’re usually quite hidden, and further away! 🙂

      February 5, 2013
  16. Great shots!

    February 5, 2013
    • Thanks so very much! I was fortunate to get as close as I did to a lovely, and usually elusive, model. 🙂

      February 5, 2013
  17. Wow! I think I’d have to just try to find those glowing-orange toes as the rest of the camouflage is too good. Then again, those leaves are nearly the same orange…

    February 5, 2013
    • You’re totally right! So many of these guys blend PERFECTLY with the surrounding vegetation… If you’re not eagle-eyed, you’ll miss them completely. It’s really amazing, their camouflage!!

      February 5, 2013
  18. Amani Resources #

    Beautiful photography, great eye — so glad to have stumbled upon your blog today. Many blessings.

    February 5, 2013
    • Thanks so very much for your kind words… I’m thrilled you stumbled across me, heh! I’m following you now as well; you have a lovely and beautiful message and blog. Blessings to you!

      February 6, 2013
      • Amani Resources #

        Thank you so much! I’m relatively new to the blogging world and find myself “stumbling” around with perfect precision. 🙂

        February 6, 2013
      • ALWAYS! I love how that happens… 🙂

        February 6, 2013
  19. Amazing photos of these beautiful birds! Fascinating!

    February 5, 2013
    • Thanks so much!! I was very lucky that they were both hunting closer than usual — and took full advantage of their proximity, despite the dark dusk hour. 🙂

      February 6, 2013
  20. What a really nice series and informative post! As I was enjoying your pictures, I knew they were likely taken early or late – I recognize the symptoms! 🙂
    But it doesn’t matter what light you see (photograph) them in, the Green Heron is beautiful!
    Nice work!

    –Wally

    February 5, 2013
    • Ah, thanks so much! And it’s always the same…. All these lovely hunters coming out at deep dusk. No worries, I always enjoy them, even without the benefits of my flash (which I refuse to use on them). 🙂

      February 6, 2013
  21. Beautiful series of photos.

    February 6, 2013
    • Thanks very much! I was lucky to have these usually shy guys hunting so closely….

      February 7, 2013
  22. Jen #

    Those are amazing photos. I did not know they used lures. Very smart birds, indeed.

    February 6, 2013
    • Thanks so much!

      They really are incredibly little herons — similar to crows and ravens, I guess. To see them in action is a treat!!

      February 7, 2013
  23. Great pictures – these birds have such an intense look in their eyes.

    Cheers and thanks for linking to WBW.

    Stewart M – Melbourne

    February 7, 2013
    • Thanks so much! They really do have an intensity and focus that’s admirable… I wish I could take some of that focus for MY life. 🙂

      February 7, 2013
  24. Breathtaking images! WOW!

    February 10, 2013
    • Thanks so very much!! They’re amazing, beautiful little herons…. 🙂

      February 10, 2013
  25. Fey Girl-your photos are superb! Kudos!

    February 26, 2013
    • Aw, thanks so very much for the kind words! I was thrilled — and very lucky — to have this guy hunting so closely to me. Very unusual! 🙂

      February 26, 2013
  26. Herons are among my favorite birds too. Beautiful photos of the green heron.

    March 2, 2013
    • And there are so many, such a varied assortment of them!

      Thanks much – I was thrilled to get really close to these usually shy guys. 🙂

      March 3, 2013
  27. Pam, I’ve been around great herons throughout much of my photo career and know they are not easy to capture. Having said that, these are absolutely stunning images with amazing focus and composition. Thanks so much for sharing them on the blog. Ya did GREAT!

    March 4, 2013
    • Thanks so very much!

      I was really lucky to have these green herons so close… Usually they’re further in the wetlands, and HIDDEN. So I was thrilled! I wish it were a wee bit lighter, because I don’t use a flash out there — but I was still happy. 🙂 -Christina

      March 4, 2013

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