The Green Heron of Costa Rica
The Green Heron has a number of different calls depending on the desired effect of its vocalizations, and in courtship the male makes a few special ones to attract a mate.
The Green Heron Distribution
The Green Heron is widely dispersed from the Northwest of the United States and the British Columbia area of Canada into the Southeast and Northeast of the US, Mexico, Central America and the Carribean Islands. It usually makes its home in low-lying wetlands. They are a migrating species of bird and can be found wintering in Mexico from their breeding homes in various parts of Canada and the United States.
Mating & Reproduction
Based on the season, Green Herons are monogamous. The male Green Heron has a specific and complex courting display which is performed to attract females. It selects a nesting site, and then flies in front of the chosen female with flared plumage on its neck and head. They regularly build their nests in trees, but nests can also be found on the ground, in tall grass or in bushes.
A Green Heron’s clutch is around two to six eggs, and each egg is laid in two to three day increments. Sometimes, however, Green Heron’s might not lay the second egg for six days. Both parents will then take turns incubating the egg, and the incubation period usually lasts from 19 to 21 days. The parents will then take turns feeding the hatchlings, and the young birds will be fully fledged around 30 to 35 days. The hatchlings may leave the nest after 16 days in some cases.
The Green Heron maybe classified as being more nocturnal than diurnal due to its rampant activity from dusk to dawn, but they do feed actively during the day. There preferred source of sustenance is fish, but they will eat frogs, aquatic arthropods and occasionally leeches and mice. If this bird lives on the coast, it adapts its lifecycle to the ebbing of the tides.
These birds are not very social animals, and are chiefly xenophobic of others when feeding. The Green Heron takes to the water’s edge or lightly steps about a shallow area alone. Next, it holds completely still, closely watching the water for movement. Once it has its prey in sight, it strikes with its beak. The Green Heron can also hover while hunting, and in retreat it maneuvers with agility and a smoothness of movement.
The Green Heron is one of only a few animals that uses tools to hunt. It will lure fish with insects, crusts of bread or other small food items as bait. When its target takes the bait, it will attempt to take the target. This has led many scientists, naturalists and enthusiasts to brand the Green Heron as one of the more intelligent animals.
Locations in Costa Rica: Corcovado National Park, Santa Rosa National Park, Marino Ballena National Park, Palo Verde National Park
Diet: fish, insects, frogs, aquatic arthropods, leeches, mice
Migration Pattern: non-migratory in Costa Rica, from the Northeast, Southeast and Northwest of North America in their breeding phase to Eastern Mexico in their wintering phase
Habitat: low-lying wetlands
Size: length=43 cm weight=210 grams
Species: Butorides Virescens