Green Herons are seen occasionally in nearby Aquatic Park, but I’ve not seen one in Cesar Chavez. Now David Hauer has spotted and photographed one. In shape and behavior they look at a distance like the more familiar Black-crowned Night Heron, but on closer view the similarity falls. The Greens are smaller and have a completely different color pattern. The “green” refers to the subtle greenish iridescent sheen when the light is just right, much like the head of a male Mallard, but more subdued. Really, it’s the the rusty breast and neck that mark the species when in breeding plumage, as here. The Green likes to freeze and wait for little fish to come to it, much like the Black-crowned, but it has a unique trick. It may float little bits of food, or feathers, on the water before it as bait to lure small fish. This makes the Green one of the very few tool-using birds, and is a sign of unusual intelligence. Except when breeding, they are solitary. Standing in the open, this individual is atypically bold for its species. Unlike most herons, the Green is shy and prefers to conceal itself in vegetation or rocks at the water’s edge.
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