Amelia Island Nature: Green, Black- and Yellow-Crowned Night Herons

Green Herons can be spotted occasionally in Egans Greenway on Amelia Island (the American Birding Association’s “Bird of the Year” 2015). Other special sightings are the Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons.

Green Heron, ABA Bird of the Year 2015
Green Heron in Egans Greenway, ABA “Bird of the Year” 2015
Green Herons can be spotted occasionally in Egans Greenway. This species is getting extra attention in the New Year, as the American Birding Association’s “Bird of the Year” 2015.

Also seen less frequently in Egans Greenway are the nocturnal herons, the Black-crowned Night-Heron and Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron (pictured below). It’s a great day out in the Greenway to glimpse any of these herons.

Green Herons of Egans Greenway

This Green Heron (Butorides virescens) was photographed on a nature walk in the north side of Amelia Island’s Egans Greenway. Seemingly more shy and skittish, Green Herons tend to stay hidden, thus seen far less in Fernandina’s preserve than the frequent sightings of the prominent big wading birds, such as the Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills.

According to Cornell’s “All About Birds,” website, “Green Herons stand motionless at the water’s edge as they hunt for fish and amphibians. They typically stand on vegetation or solid ground, and they don’t wade as often as larger herons.” This description fits their behavior in Egans Greenway, where they stay more secluded along the creek bank, camouflaged by surrounding grasses and shrubs, not wading up and down the creek like the big guys.

Lesser-Seen Herons of Egans Greenway

Black-crowned Night-Heron (left) & Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Night-Herons: Black-crowned (left) & Juvenile Yellow-crowned

Other unique sightings in the Greenway are nocturnal herons (although these photos were taken in daylight). Spotted far less frequently in the Greenway, this Black-Crowned Night-Heron (left) was seen in the southside of the Greenway. The juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (right) was perched on the railing of a wooden pedestrian bridge in the Greenway’s northside. It’s always fun to see a “new” bird for the first time out in the wild, or one seen on more rare occasions.

The ABA’s blog about why it chose the Green Heron as the “Bird of the Year” 2015 offers this insight, shared below:

“For many birders, Green Heron was one of the first species that suggested that birding can open your world up to experiences you never would have expected otherwise. Because while birders and non-birders alike are familiar with the large and dramatic members of the heron clan, it’s the surprisingly vivid, amazingly unexpected one hidden along the edges of the water that seems to draw out the birder hiding inside all of us.” See lots more about the Green Heron at the American Birding Association’s “Bird of the Year” web page.

New Year’s Resolutions? Take more nature walks, good for body and soul (and opportunity for a new discovery). Good luck spotting the lesser-seen herons!

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By W.B. Lawson

"PERSPECTIVE" column -- Observations of island life, news & opinion.