Cooper Marsh, Lancaster, Ontario, Canada
July 9, 2011
Green Heron Butorides virescens

There are quite a few Green Herons at Cooper Marsh and they seem to be little reclusive. I’ve spent some time wandering about and, when I’ve seen one, it always seems to be off in the distance. This was the first one, spotted a couple of weeks ago, quite far out into The Marsh.

The other day I was walking along the path to the boardwalk and one flew up from right beside me and landed a distance away. I was able to get a couple of shots, but, as you can see, still a little too far off for much detail.

Then today there was a repeat performance, but still not a terribly satisfying shot.

As I was walking along the boardwalk, one shot up from the water, right beside me. “My heavens!”, I said. It flew on a bit and landed on the handrail. I tried to sneak up on it, but it was not going to cooperate and headed for the horizon. “Darn”, I said. Then I spotted one on a tree a bit further out, so I quickly walked over to where I could get a better shot. And, of course, it took off again. “”Oh, dear!”, I said. But, to my amazement, it flew in a fair bit closer and landed in a dead tree close by. Relatively speaking.

With thanks to

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.


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.


Small fish, invertebrates, insects, frogs, and other small animals.


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.

Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 170 to 500 at 500 mm
iso 400, spot metered, F13.0, 1/640 second

In love with Ma Nature! Always have been, always will be. Let’s keep her safe, eh?

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  • artwhiz47
    artwhiz47over 3 years ago

    Little Green on his complicated perch. Can’t miss that shape; he’s a fine bird, well caught, Mike. I’m glad you confined your epithets to ‘darn’ & ‘oh, dear’, too.

  • Many thanks, Sheila. The epithets used in the description were toned down for our younger viewers, as you may have guessed. Particularly when the last one exploded out of the undergrowth beside me when I wasn’t expecting it and then later left the handrail before I got close enough. “Jeepers”, I said.

    – Mike Oxley

  • Larry Trupp
    Larry Truppover 3 years ago

    Wonderful capture Mike

  • Thanks so very much, Larry. I waited a while for this one!

    – Mike Oxley

  • stickelsimages
    stickelsimagesover 3 years ago

    I’m a bit concerned about you my friend….
    Scottish heritage.. no doubt a closet kilt wearer…
    bag pipes turn your knees to jelly….
    the bbbbbrrrrraaaap of a snare drum….
    porridge (with salt, not sugar!!!)…
    fine single or double malt…
    do these things mean nothing to you my dear friend?
    Then in your article re this wee heron you write…
    “My heavens”, “Darn” & “Oh, Dear”!!!!!!!
    Billy Connolly’s been in America a long time & he still knows how to use a proper Bonny Prince Charlie bit of choice language!!!!!!!
    Michael, Michael, Michael!!!!!
    Wha de fook are we gonna du wi yee lad!!!!!!!?

  • LOL!!! Let me see. Hmmmm.
    Kilt is in the closet, last worn in 1968, I think. Might be a bit of a tight fit these days.
    Don’t like the pipes. (Shocked gasp!)
    Snare drums? A handy addition to any drummer’s kit.
    Porridge? Great with cream and brown sugar. Favourite winter’s breakfast in Edinburgh.
    Single Malt? Oh, ya! Love, but it hates me. A migraine in every glass, I’m afraid.
    And, jeepers, I could probably keep up with Mr C with the fine Scots/Anglo epithets, along with a few francais ones thrown in.

    I’m afraid I’m incorrigible, Lee, and I guess using substitutions for the actual flowery language is testing folks’ credibility a wee bit, eh? Buggah! :o)

    – Mike Oxley

  • Shulie1
    Shulie1over 3 years ago

    Another fantastic shot, Mike

  • Many, many thanks, Shulie! It took a wee while but I finally found a cooperative hereon!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Bobby Dar
    Bobby Darover 3 years ago

    Terrific work

  • Greatly appreciated, Bobby, and many thanks!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Fred Mitchell
    Fred Mitchellover 3 years ago

    Great story of patience and persistence. Congratulations on the shot.

  • Thanks so very much, Fred. It took a while, but persistence paid off. Now if I could only get that Common Snipe that keeps popping very briefly into view….

    – Mike Oxley

  • RicIanH
    RicIanHover 3 years ago

    Stunning picture. Very handsome bird.

  • Many, many thanks, RicIan. They are a rather nicely coloured bird, but that acts as a rather effective camouflage, too. They’re pretty hard to spot when they’re in the marsh grasses and reeds.

    – Mike Oxley

  • mrcoradour
    mrcoradourover 3 years ago

    This is a brilliant shot * find Mike so interesting

  • Thanks so very much for the lovely comments, Malcolm. Greatly appreciated, my friend!

    – Mike Oxley

  • artwhiz47
    artwhiz47over 3 years ago

    I see oor friend Lee Stickels had a few choice words about your choice of epithets, too. But when you come right down to it, Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s classic Fuddle Duddle! is probably as good as it gets, Bonnie Prince Charly notwithstanding (& as for Billy Connolly ~ you’re in Canada, not the US, forsooth; a world of difference, eh?), & I do like Jeepers for any explosive occasion. The photo remains a picture.

  • PET’s Fuddle was an absolute classic and a brilliant sidestep if ever I heard one. Mr C performed in Cornwall a number of years back (early 90’s?) and it was hysterical. After the first f bomb, a pack of Auld Dears nearly got trampled in a rushed exodus to the door. I think they were expecting an evening of Harry Lauder, Andy Stewart or Kenneth MacKellar music and were a little taken aback. The posters announced that Mr C was a “Scottish Musician and Raconteur”, a little misleading, I think. My stomach hurt for about three days after.
    And I think I explained things to Lee.

    – Mike Oxley

  • Martina Fagan
    Martina Faganover 3 years ago

    lovely shot

  • Many, many thanks, Martina! Greatly appreciated!

    – Mike Oxley

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