A little green heron sitting on a nest in a bird enclosure at the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park in Homosassa Springs, Florida. Please enlarge. (Info below)
Canon EOS Rebel XSi/450D, Canon 55-250 lens
1/100s, f/5.6, ISO 800, focal length 214.0mm
From The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (All About Birds.org)
A small, stocky wading bird, the Green Heron is common in wet spots across much of North America. It can be difficult to see as it stands motionless waiting for small fish to approach within striking range, but it frequently announces its presence by its loud squawking.
The Green Heron is one of the few tool-using birds. It commonly drops bait onto the surface of the water and grabs the small fish that are attracted. It uses a variety of baits and lures, including crusts of bread, insects, earthworms, twigs, or feathers.
The Green Heron is part of a complex of small herons that sometimes are considered one species. When lumped, they are called Green-backed Heron. When split, they are the Green Heron, the widespread Striated Heron, and the Galapagos Heron.
As is typical for many herons, the Green Heron tends to wander after the breeding season is over. Most wanderers probably seek more favorable foraging areas and do not travel far, but occasionally some travel greater distances, with individuals turning up as far as England and France.
Habitat:Breeds in swampy thickets. Forages in swamps, along creeks and streams, in marshes, ponds, lake edges, and pastures. Winters mostly in coastal areas, especially mangrove swamps.
Food: Small fish, invertebrates, insects, frogs, and other small animals.
Nesting: Nest a basket of sticks, placed in small tree or shrub, usually over water. Nests in small, loose colonies.
Behavior: Stands still next to water and grabs small fish with explosive dart of head and neck. One of the few birds that uses bait to attract fish, it drops such things as bread crusts, insects, and twigs onto the water.
Conservation: Common and widespread. Populations difficult to census accurately, but appear stable.