A Green Heron’s Fishing Lesson: Knowing just when to strike

by Anders Gyllenhaal
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The Green Heron, moving so slowly that it blends into the background, is all but invisible. That can be a fatal mistake. 

Gradually lifting one foot, then the other, the heron edges forward until it’s within striking distance of its prey. Then with breathtaking speed, it snaps up a tiny fish in a single move and swallows almost as quickly, before it moves on to the next encounter. 

We stumbled upon this magnificent bird last weekend at Raleigh, N.C.’s Crabtree wetlands. The swampy expanse not far from downtown is a feathered circus this time of year, with swallows circling constantly, warblers adding color to the trees, a Bald Eagle passing overhead, a Great Blue Heron snagging a fish of its own, and crows and grackles supplying the soundtrack.

All the while, the Green Heron makes its way around the shallow water, nearly invisible in all the clamor until it makes its move. 

Here’s the cast of colorful characters gathered in these wetlands:  

 

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