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Eye to Eye With a Green Heron on White Rock Creek

The green heron is perhaps the most elusive and shy of the shorebirds that frequent waterways in Dallas.

Great egrets, snowy egrets, blue herons, ducks, seagulls and white pelicans are often plentiful at White Rock Lake. However, tracking a green heron takes a bit more creativity.

Bird watching from a kayak offers the best opportunity to get on eye level with a green heron, as I did last July along White Rock Creek.

I was paddling down the creek when a birding friend pointed out that a tiny green heron was perched on a log in the creek.

Paddling down the tranquil creek, sheltered from the hustle and bustle of the city sounds, the heron revealed itself without hesitation. I was surprised that the bird allowed me to approach so close in the kayak.

Standing atop the log, the stocky little heron looked right at me. Green herons are known for foraging for food by standing very still at attention or moving slowly along a marshy or wetland shoreline.

The tiny green heron seemed not to be bothered by my presence, glancing to the right and left. To put this little bird in perspective, The Cornell School of Ornithology compares the green heron as the same size of an American Crow. Green herons have short legs and a long bill shaped like a dagger equipped for fishing.

I paddled along and the heron took flight and landed a short distance away on a branch alongside the creek.

According to the Texas Breeding Bird Atlas, green herons can be found in wetlands along the overgrown water’s edge. Green herons tend to be found in eastern Texas in summer months.

The heron made his way down the narrow branch. Green herons often like to lurk among dense vegetation alongside water. They crouch, rather than standing tall.

He extended his neck and beak while gripping the branch tightly. It is common to see green herons clinging to tree branches or on logs while hunting for fish.

He ruffled his neck feathers ever so slightly. Although not shown here, green herons often ruffle the feathers along on their head into a mohawk-like crest.

I can show one blurry photo I took of a separate heron below along the shoreline at White Rock Lake with his feathers sticking up (sadly, this heron is standing next to a discarded plastic bag).

Taking photos from a kayak is always somewhat tricky, with the constant risk of dropping the camera in the water.

However, I zoomed in and grabbed the closeup shot below that is my favorite.

The photo allows you to appreciate the details of this beguiling little bird: a bright almost fluorescent yellow eye, a long elegant neck, and wispy multicolored feathers.

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