Dateline: May 17, 2013*
As I do every morning, I was walking around the property enjoying nature at its best. I took my normal route past the Rusty Lyonia, Pawpaws and Dwarf Oaks, among others and headed down the bank of the pond into the section that dries up during Florida dry season. I checked two small temporary pools created from recent rains and watched the tadpoles dance with the diving beetles.
As I turned my attention to the main section of pond, I was surprised to see a Green Heron (Butorides virescens) standing on the side, poised to grab a meal. He seemed unfazed with my presence, unlike his compatriots the blue or white herons, which fly off the moment I open the door to the house some 150 feet way. Not the first time I have met up with a green heron in my pond, but it is an unusual and welcome occurrence.
I watched and photographed as birdy moved stealthily around the perimeter, snagging mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) along the way. As I walked, we seemed to move in unison, always at exact opposite positions along the pond edge. He was diligent and obviously very hungry as we spent about 45 minutes doing our opposing dance. I climbed up the bank at one point and wandered to another part of the yard.
When I returned, I noticed that the green heron had climbed aboard the tussock (island) at one end of my pond. When the tussock first appeared, I had visions of wildlife making it a home and my new bird friend made the picture painted in my mind a reality.
Green Herons, small by most heron standards, are “one of the few birds that uses bait to attract fish, it drops such things as bread crusts, insects, and twigs onto the water.” Fish is the primary diet along with frogs, insects and other invertebrates. They are vocal when they fly in or fly off.
I gave him some words of warning, advising that I would be VERY annoyed if he ate my new turtle friends and he seemed to stick with the fare of the day, fish. I hoped that he would snag one of the bluegills or large mouth bass that reside in the depths of the water so I could have that Kodak moment of a wading bird with a fish in his mouth. It was not to be. Without warning, my green heron friend flew off leaving me with a good feeling that I am not viewed as a threat to the wildlife friends who come to visit my native plant gardening paradise.
*This is an update of a tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on May 17, 2013 at the defunct national blog beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.