The Many Looks of the Little Green Heron ~ Caught on camera from around the Lowcountry!

I spend many hours out in the field studying bird behavior and photographing them for possible painting subjects. Some birds can be more challenging than others to photograph!

The little Green Heron is a relatively small heron, which for the most part is very skittish and likes to hide along riverbanks or in bushes or trees. It is naturally camouflaged, sporting brown and green feathers, which blend in nicely with its surroundings. It is also very quick and will take off in a flash if it detects unwanted activity in the area.

Being skittish, fast, and naturally camouflaged turns birding for Green Herons into a challenging sport.

The fact that the Green Heron is a master of many looks also makes him fun to photograph.

I ask myself, if I were to paint a Green Heron, how would I like to portray him? The Green Heron is full of personality. One could create a large body of work just painting the many looks of the Green Heron.

I have been fortunate to have had a number of opportunities to zero in on the elusive little heron. I have a wide variety of images to choose from ranging from serious stalking-like poses to almost comical or amusing poses. I thought it might be interesting to show you some of the many looks of the Green Heron from images I’ve taken over the last couple of years around the Lowcountry.

My most recent sighting was in Mount Pleasant at a pond in the community of Charleston National. I came across a rookery where Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets were nesting. While photographing them I noticed a lot of activity from a pair of Green Herons in a bushy area near the water. Turned out the pair had four juveniles they were tending to.

The juvies had what looked like hair plugs on top of their heads (down feathers), where the adult head feathers will soon fill in. They were full of themselves, sometimes gathering 3 or 4 on a branch, waiting impatiently for Mom and Dad to come back with dinner.

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They let me get fairly close over time, as I returned four or five times to photograph them. It was the first time I’ve ever seen more than a pair together.

One of my favorite Green Herons was a bird I photographed in Huntington Beach State Park. It flew up onto the railing of a boardwalk over the marsh and put on quite a performance. He busted a move, he gave me his roadrunner-look with the spiked hairdo, and strutted his stuff like he was John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever! He stuck his neck out when I was leaving to say goodbye. :-)

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I was walking Folly Beach one morning and had my first sighting of a Green Heron at the beach. He was off in the distance perched on top of a gnarly old dead tree. He had a primo view!

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One of the funniest poses I’ve ever seen a Green Heron make was right here in Carolina Park, Mount Pleasant, SC, where we live. Again, this one was stationed on a bare branch of a dead tree. His pose was cartoonish and made me laugh. :-)

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The most camouflaged Green Heron I’ve seen was at the Audubon Swamp in Magnolia Gardens, Charleston, SC. Bright green duckweed was all around covering the surface of the water, fallen trees rotting in the swamp. There he was, creeping along, looking for his next meal.

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One of my favorite birding locations is the Pitt Street Bridge, in Mount Pleasant, SC, because of the wide variety of birds that you can see on any given day. I like this shot of my Pitt Street Bridge Green Heron because it’s so colorful and the strong reflections of the broken reeds.

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I was just down in Kiawah and spotted this Green Heron along the edge of a creek. He had his head feathers flared and had just been flirting with his partner who happened to be hiding in the bushes on the other side of the creek.

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Here are a few other pics I’ve taken of this spunky little heron.

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I’m working on a portrait of a Great Egret at the moment, but I’m looking forward to painting the Green Heron sometime soon. I’m not sure yet how I will choose to portray him, but I’ve got some good ideas now.


One of the joys of being an artist is having the freedom to follow my passion….
— William R. Beebe
What’s next?  Drawing by William R. Beebe

What’s next?

Drawing by William R. Beebe

The Birdman of Assateague! ~ Exploring with Beebe

Last week, with my Canon Digital Rebel camera all charged up and an overnight bag packed, I set out for a two day photography excursion to Assateague Island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  After many recent outings to local wetlands, I thought that it might be time to take this waterfowl/bird thing to the next level.  I’ve spent many years out on the water, schooner hunting, but this was my first time wandering the wilderness in search of the avian species.

Driving through the neighboring town of Chincoteague, I noticed a street named Beebe Rd.  I thought to myself, it must be named after C. William Beebe the naturalist/oceanographer/writer, whom I wrote several biographies about in school as a kid.  For sure, my distant relative, whom my father met, had wandered the same trails back in the early 1900’s that I soon would be hiking.

I made a mental note, that when I returned home I would look through storage and find the book that I borrowed from the Catawba College library back in 1975 and never returned, entitled Exploring with Beebe, and read it!  The only other person to ever check out the book was back in May of 1956, so I don’t feel so bad. :-)

The weather cooperated and I was able to document a variety of species of waterfowl and shorebirds on film (digital).  I walked many miles along nicely paved paths that circled the large wetlands.  Starting out on Beach Road, I spotted numerous white egrets and snowy egrets.  Along the Wildlife Loop, I spotted a great blue heron, many more egrets, a blue-winged teal duck or two, a green heron, martins etc...  I photographed terns diving into Shoveler Pool and a Lesser Yellowlegs strutting his stuff. 

I took hundreds of pictures, many of which I’m excited to paint.  My mini-expedition was very successful and my energy level is way up.  I managed to get by with only a few mosquito bites.  It happened to be a relatively slow time for seeing migratory birds, so I am planning on going back when I know certain species are more likely to be there. 

Thinking of myself amusingly as the “Birdman” upon my return, I found Exploring with Beebe and started reading.  Turns out, C. William Beebe was and remains The Birdman!  He wrote books entitled Two Bird-Lovers in Mexico in 1905, The Bird in 1906, Pheasants: Their Lives and Homes in 1926, and many other books and manuscripts, documenting his expeditions for the New York Zoological Society to places like the Galapagos Islands, the jungles of South America, Borneo and just about any other exotic place one can think of. 

Early in his career, he became the curator for the New York Zoo, and was the one that introduced a “flying cage” for the birds.  On his many travels, he himself would catch rare and unusual species of birds and transport them back for all to view at the New York Zoo. 

His achievements were many and he became quite famous in his day. As I read his many exploits of handling large iguanas and giant lizards, sharing the ground with deadly poisonous yellow and black bushmaster snakes in the jungles and tropical swamps of Panama, trekking through the thickets of dense unexplored jungles, and lowering himself to record setting depths of the sea while avoiding sharks, I can’t help but think what a nice walk in the park I had at Assateague!!!!!!!!! :-)

Turns out, one of C. William Beebe’s many expeditions was to the Great Barrier Islands of Virginia.  So in the end, I most likely was literally following in C. William Beebe’s footsteps and figuratively exploring with Beebe!

Here are a few of my photos from my little adventure.

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