Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Jim Parrish
Photo Copyright Jim Parrish

The green heron, Butorides virescens, occurs throughout Central America, Mexico, the eastern United States, and the west coast of North America, north to Vancouver. Populations in interior North America west of the Rocky Mountains are sparse. In Utah, this bird is a rare summer resident, breeding only in Washington County in the southwestern corner of the state.

Green herons are usually found in dense riparian zones, marshlands, and flooded fields, where they feed on fish and various invertebrates. This species is known to use bait to capture fish by dropping small twigs, feathers, or even live insects into the water to attract fish to the surface, within striking distance. Nests are constructed of thin sticks and are usually located near water in trees or bushes, though sometimes nests are near the ground. This heron lays three to five eggs in April or May, and both sexes incubate the eggs for 19 to 21 days. The young are independent and able to fly one month after hatching.


  • Davis, W. E., Jr., and J. A. Kushlan. 1994. Green Heron (Butorides virescens). Birds of North America 129: 23 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.