Juvenile Green Heron Works the Wetlands!

Several days ago I noticed a young Green Heron in the Wetlands. It was in juvenal plumage.

A juvenile Green Heron contemplates the water’s surface, perhaps waiting for a fish, tadpole, or even a small frog to come by (6/22/11).

When I first saw the bird it still had some downy feathers wildly protruding from its crown. It’s “do” has settled down some but it still maintains the sure signs of a recently fledged bird.

Note the streaked underparts, light colored (buffy) edges to the feathers on the wing (coverts), and brownish back.

We’ve had a Green Heron or two visit the Wetlands daily since mid April. Since early May I’ve seen one of these little herons fly off in the direction of Catch the Wind, not in itself unusual because green herons seem to always fly off in that direction. More importantly, I kept seeing a heron land in the trees next to and behind the Take Off (our newest exhibit, where the Ornithopter used to be).

I suspected that the bird was nesting somewhere in the tangle of shrubs and vines that grow in that area of the Museum grounds. This site is directly behind a small swampy area. Green Herons do not nest in colonies like most other herons and egrets, and our Wetlands is a perfect location for nesting to occur. I have no proof of a nest, but I strongly suspect that our little juvenile came from very close-by.

Notice the light edges and tips to the smaller feathers of the wing, the streaked belly and neck, and the brownish feathers on the back. If you look closely you can see some green feathers showing through.

If you happen to see the little heron, watch as it stalks fish, or awkwardly stabs at dragonflies that come near it, its youth is also made obvious by its behavior.

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