Friday, January 9, 2015

Featured Feathered Friend: Bird of the Year Edition - Green Heron

Well, as you all may know by now, the American Birding Association (ABA) has announced its Bird of the Year for 2015 – the ever-lovely Green Heron. So here is a FFF featuring this BOTY or BOY. These are some older pictures from back in our early Florida days (most of them from our point-and-shoot), and they tell a little story. 

I’ve always had trouble thinking about what was my “spark bird” – what was that one bird that made me realize “Aha! I love birding!” I could just never really pinpoint just one bird that did me in. And when I thought about it some more, I recalled one special little bird that caught me by surprise in an ever so good way, and it was the Green Heron. It’s funny that I was actually thinking about this recently even before the BOTY announcement.

So why was it the Green Heron? Well, when we first started exploring birding, before we even really knew what we were getting ourselves into, I remember that we’d see such a variety of herons and egrets just dotting our little manmade pond behind our apartment building. There was one little funny one that stood out amongst the others because it was so short and stoutish compared to the long and graceful Great Egret and Great Blue Heron we’d often see, or even the smaller, but still lean Tri-Colored Heron and Snowy Egret. 

But it wasn’t just its unique shape that made it stand out. I distinctly remember a time when walking by another little pond that we saw such a peculiar bird that looked sort of familiar, but different at the same time. What took us a somewhat embarrassingly good while to figure out in our novice days was that we were looking at a Green Heron with its neck extended! When we finally figured this out and laughed at ourselves for not realizing this was the same bird we had seen other times before, it just made me realize that birds are such funny little creatures with such quirky and wondrous ways about them, that I wanted to know more, see more, and learn more. 

The Green Heron always has a special place in my heart. I love its colors and its behavior. I even love it although I could never get a good shot of one flying no matter how hard I tried. Oh, and who couldn't love a darling little ball of fuzz baby Green Heron like the one I captured photos of back in the day.

We were spoiled with seeing these skulky herons quite regularly in Florida, and then less so in the Savannah area. And now it seems to be a rare treat here in Oregon, but they still make me smile and yell out “Greenie!” every time I see or hear one.

I even sketched out a Baby Green Heron as one of the several mini sticky-note bird sketches I've drawn for Nick. ;)


  1. Aw... what a lovely story. I LOVE green herons. So beautiful and seemingly humble. Glad to hear they are BOTY. RICHLY deserved.

    A few things:

    1. Is "spark bird" a term birders use for that bird-that-makes-you-bird? DO tell. (or tweet @biobabbler ??)

    2. If so, my Spark Bird is the Bufflehead. Saw it floating on the San Diego river as I took my walk-toward-nature on the weekend in my S.D. days. It was SO striking, so black and white, super great aesthetic design, yet I had no binos, I HAD to figure out what it was.

    Am still deeply in love with them. Years later I saw them up close at the San Diego zoo and HOLY LORD, I didn't know the males' black is ALSO IRIDESCENT on the head. I mean, COME ON. Embarrassment of riches, for sure.

    3. I think that water birds (the large, slow/frequently-still ones) are GREAT starter birds for starter birders. Ducks and egrets (still in S.D.) were my lifeline. While I actually HAD to learn to bird for work (NPS), I started birding FOR FUN on the ducks and egrets and other non-tiny, non-frenetically-active birds.

    4. The Green Heron led to a watershed event in my life. EARLY in my relationship w/my husband (so was early in dating days), I took him to a slough nearby, then crossed the street to try and find the green heron that hangs out where the water dumps into the S.D. River. Walking toward G.H. land I started sneezing. And itching. And puffing up RAPIDLY. Apparently violently allergic to something there. My charming date said, "We're going back, NOW." despite my protests.

    Then in the car (on the way to the drug store to pop 40 benedryl & maybe go to the E.R.) I looked at myself. Eyes puffed up horribly, I exclaimed ('cause I WAS on a date, after all): "I look like a monster!"
    The man who is now my husband said, simply: "MY monster."

    Annnnd sold. How can you not love someone who says THAT. =) So, the Green Heron sped our way toward wedded bliss.

    5. Thank you for this POST! =)


    1. Hi there! Thanks, biobabbler! So, here go my responses to your lovely comments:
      1.) Yes, a Spark Bird is the bird that makes you realize that you're hooked on birds! I guess it takes you from a casual observer to a birder.
      2.) That's great! I love Buffleheads SO much! They are quite adorable, and that iridescent sheet is definitely something else.
      3.) I totally agree. Herons/Egrets were our starter birds. Then I got hooked on warblers and gnat-catchers for the challenge!
      4.) That story is so funny and adorable. I actually LOL'd. He's definitely a keeper. That reminds me of something my hubby would say, too. ;)
      5.) Thanks for stopping by and for the comment! =D