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|Keep an eye out for Green Herons|
|Tuesday, 07 July 2009 16:24|
July is a pretty quiet month for backyard birds. Most are busy raising a new batch of offspring. All that passionate singing and strutting around in new feathers is pretty much over. Only the American Goldfinches are still in perfect plumage. They are the last of our common songbirds to nest.
But although the little woodland guys are pretty hard to find now, out on our marshes and beaches you can come up with a treasure trove of attractive birds. The herons and egrets that inhabit our shorelines and wetlands are among the most beautiful and easily spotted of our summer visitors.
Regular wading birds to Duxbury include Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Cattle Egrets, American Bittern, those spooky night herons, the occasional Tricolored Heron and, of course, the Green Heron.
The first time I saw a Green Heron I repeatedly paged through my bird book looking for something that resembled this squat brown bird sitting in the cattails at the Wellfleet Sanctuary on Cape Cod. I was new to all this birding stuff and had to start at the beginning. I couldnâ€™t find anything that looked like this bird. It was moving in slow motion through the reeds picking up one foot and placing it on the ground before moving another muscle in its body. I was fascinated and frustrated at the same time.
Eventually a smart person came along and gave me its name: Green-backed Heron (since changed to Green Heron). Of course two minutes later the bird stood straight up and extended its heron-like neck. As it moved into the sunlight I saw its glossy, greenish-black head and back.
Green Herons are rather solitary and nearly as spooky as their cousins, the night herons. They seldom venture out into the light, preferring the dark corners of the marshes. After an elaborate courtship display they mate and build nests in trees (sometimes on the ground) near or over water. Both parents incubate the 2â€“5 eggs.
Green Herons are among those birds that use tools! After years of being told by the experts that humans are the only animals that use tools, that theory got thrown under the bus when studies of monkeys, chimpanzees, dolphins and several birds showed that many animals employ sticks, bits of food even man-made objects to feed themselves. Green Herons can be seen dropping food or insects into the water to attract fish. And, they never lie about the size of their catch.
So on a hot summerâ€™s day, go find a nice buggy marsh and sit very still. You might just find a weird green-backed chunky bird called the Green Heron!