This beautiful green heron (Butorides virescens) was spotted perched on a long leaf pine along Mussett Bayou in Santa Rosa Beach.
A small, stocky wading bird, the green heron is common in wet spots across much of North America. It can be difficult to see as it stands motionless waiting for small fish to approach within striking range, but it frequently announces its presence by its loud squawking.
• 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.
Information courtesy allaboutbirds.org