The Green Heron (Butorides virescens) is a
small heron. Some sources consider this bird
and the Striated Heron or Mangrove Heron, Butorides
striatus, of tropical Africa and Asia, to be a
single species, the Green-backed Heron.
Adults are about 44 cm long, and have a blue
back and wings, a chestnut neck with a white line
down the front, a black cap and short yellow legs.
Juveniles are duller, with the head sides, neck
and underparts streaked brown and white and greenish-yellow
Their breeding habitat is small wetlands in eastern
and midwest North America, Central America, the
West Indies and the Pacific coast of Canada and
the United States. They nest in a platform of
sticks often in shrubs or trees, sometimes on
the ground, often near water. The female lays
3 to 5 eggs. Both parents incubate for about 20
days until hatching, and feed the young birds
which take a further 3 weeks to fledge.
Northern Green Heron populations of the race
B. v. virescens are migratory and winter from
the southern United States through to northern
South America. This subspecies is an extremely
rare vagrant to western Europe.
Resident breeding birds in the Caribbean and
Central America belong to the shorter-winged race
B. v. maculatus
Green Herons stand still at the water's edge
and wait to ambush prey. They mainly eat small
fish, frogs and aquatic insects. They sometimes
drop food on the water's surface to attract fish.
Their call is a loud and sudden kyow.
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