Nature Blog Network Wildlife Photography Blog Fatbirder's top 1000 birding websites

Welcome to the Pine River Review. Our sight is dedicated to our little homestead located along the Pine River tucked inside the Chippewa Nature Center's 1400 Acres of wild in Michigan's lower penninsula. We love to share our pictures, video, comment, and our own homespun music. Step inside our world as we celebrate this beautiful nook!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

World Bird Wednesday XXXVII

In Pursuit of the Green Heron

I had set several goals at the outset of the summer season to concentrate on. Most of them, like my desire to take one of those artful super detailed hummingbird pictures, remain bullet points on my hope list still waiting for nature to bless me with opportunity. If your listening Nature; this is not a veiled compliant lest you think me ungrateful, I am just fine trying to hit the knuckle balls you serve up so unexpectedly on my days in the fields and swamps. Many Thanks! 
  The unpredictability of this nature photography business is at the heart of it's continuing attraction for me. That being said, there are certain birds, like the Green heron (Butorides virescens), that are agonisingly common yet so fleet and shadowy that what pictures there are of them in my portfolio amount to a collection of mostly near miss, out of focus brown smudges. What gives? 
  Why is this bird such a hard nut to crack?


My pursuit of Green herons goes back seven years when I purchased my country home on the Pine River as a down payment on my retirement years. Even though I am essentially and more or less contentedly a city boy born and bred on the East side of Detroit, I felt like I needed a hermitage; a place to hide out, to know nature.  
  Tough town Detroit. I was 14 in 1967 during the Summer Riots when the top blew off Motown, the smoke and gunfire has been a constant companion ever since. Much time was spent in the auto factories and the dingy stamping plants that hammered out rolled steel into fenders. I did not have to serve in the military during the Vietnam war years as my brothers did. There was a draft lotto back then and based on your birthday you received a number 1 through 365. Receiving a "1" meant you and everyone else who shared your birthday would be drafted first. The balls were drawn in a bazaar ceremony where your fate was sealed one way or the other; my ball read 325. I traveled the world instead of going to war between my 17th and 23rd years. Coming back home to stay, the travel bug gone, I hung up my backpack. Through the tangled years I held the fantasy of living on a river and breaking free of my crumbling city. The second I stepped foot on this river property I knew I wanted to be part of it. I acted on that impulse.
  It was the call of the wild.


  A Green Heron lived on the near bank amongst the jumble of high grass and tree limbs of the Rio Pine when I first called this home. The road to my little house pokes into the Chippewa Nature Area putting me smack inside 1400 acres of unfenced back to nature wetland forest. It was all new and open to me, a great and barely comprehensible playground. I was a door slammer in those days. Every time I excitedly went outside I scared the bejeebies out of every living thing a quarter mile around. The herons especially seemed to know my every move for even when I intended to silently creep up to the high bank and peer over off they'd fly before my hand ever left the door knob. It didn't take me long to realise I had jumped into the deep end of this nature thing and I needed to discover a different kind of silence if I wanted to be more than a clumsy disturbance in this old school neighborhood.
  Getting close to a Green heron on the Pine River became the litmus test for my emerging mindset. This could not be rushed.
 In this world you get where your going one day at a time.  

  One could spend a happy lifetime studying Green herons so deep and beautiful are their mysteries. The neck of this bird immediately sets it apart. It folds perfectly and invisibly into the torso morphing the bird into the shape of a chubby gull. Then, whether the neck is unfolded slowly and puffed up in a romantic gesture or explosively catapulted forward spearing a minnow, the spectacle is an unexpected pleasure.
  Consider this Green heron controversy some starry night round the campfire...
  There are thought to be rare genius level Green herons who have discovered how to bait fish. It has been observed these herons using feathers, bugs, and such articles as they can find to drop on the waters surface from above to attract the curious and hungry minnows upward from the depths. This is tool usage; a very rare occurrence with birds and demonstrates a rising intelligence. Crows also seem to be making this quantum leap forward. They have been seen purposefully dropping walnuts onto busy roads shelling them for easy consumption by using the passing cars as their nutcrackers! 
  Is this emerging behavior an example of the evolutionary process working it's magic on the Green heron and crow? Have they touched the monolith ala Kubrick's 2001 Space Odyssey? 
  No matter your opinion on these issues, how could you not love a bird that poses such intriguing questions?  

 Joe the Bird Whistler was up to my house recently working on  mastering the finer aspects of the Canon Dslr. As he sat quietly on the high bank above the river Joe spotted a Green heron hunting for minnows in the river grass. He waved me over and gave me the heads up. Even then it was tough to see, so well camouflaged was our birds movements through the reeds. We watched for awhile, I asked Joe for the camera and whispered,"I'm going to try and get closer." The high bank on my side of the river is a steep drop of about twenty feet. As quietly and peacefully as I could scuttle down, the first step would be making the shoreline. The Green heron remained steadfast, continuing to stalk the shallows when I finally made the tall grass of the bank. Oh, he knew I was there alright. The line of sight was cluttered with green as I crept closer and closer, a clear view continuing to escape me, my arms growing heavy with the exertion of holding a steady camera while expecting the bird to flush any second. Finally I sat and rested, the heron so close I could have bent over and kissed him. There was a sense of relief when he flew off to the opposite shore.
It is said: You can take the boy out of the city but you can't take the city out of the boy. That's probably why the next morning, still hung over with the transcendence of my close encounter, I forgot and slammed the door on my way out. Joe says I'm still not fully evolved! 

Pray tell: Why isn't the Green heron green?

Now it's time for World Bird Wednesday!
This is the home of World Bird Wednesday. A place for bird photographers from around the world to gather and share their photographs and experiences as they pursue Natures most beautiful treasurers, the birds.
World Bird Wednesday will be open for posting at 12 noon Tuesday EST North America through midnight on Wednesday.


#1. Simply copy the above picture onto your W.B.W. blog entry. It contains a link for your readers to share in WBW. Or you can copy this link on to your blog page to share W.B.W.
#2. Come to The Pine River Review on Tuesday Noon EST North America through Wednesday midnight and submit your blog entry with Linky.

#3. Check back in during the course of the next day and explore these excellent photoblogs!

The idea of a meme is that you will visit each others blogs and perhaps leave a comment to encourage your compadres!
Come on it's your turn!


  1. I always appreciate when you relate all of your own trials and tribulations in acquiring your photos. It is reassuring to know "it's not just me". The first shot with that reflection is ideal. The last two I would have thought impossible for a Green Heron. Very nice write-up. I'll be adding my contribution to WBW in the morning. Thanks for hosting it.

  2. Love these shots of the green heron. They are pretty skittish. We have one that sometimes sits on our dock and I can slide the glass door open without a sound and he still takes off. I usually try and get him through the window.

  3. i love the way you write. makes me fall in love with your nature pursuits. lovely, lovely photos of your feathered friend.

  4. What was the movie where the actor Walked softly-carried a big stick??? City boy/natureman you have evolved.Excellent story and beautiful herons. Happy WBW all.

  5. Great shots Springman!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  6. Great shots and well told of your adventure.

  7. Springman, Great shots of the Green one! I got some shots of one a couple of years ago. My first and last so far. This guy was hunting Frogs! As it was doing that it slipped off the log it was standing on and partially fell into the water. It got up and shook itself off. It threw up it's crest and looked quite disgruntled! They are a mystery!
    I can picture your "roost" on the Pine! It sounds Fine!

  8. Beautiful images of your lovely Green Heron and another wonderful read...

  9. I would love to see Green Heron one day! Such a beautiful bird!

  10. Great photos and a very interesting post. I like your observation about the unpredictability of nature photography. Definitely true for me.

  11. I liked the Green Heron. OK, it is not much green but a little green it is. Excellent shots and I love the one with the huge, long neck. I saw the bird several times in CR, but mostly when it was dusk. And never with that long neck. Love it.

  12. That next to last shot is my it!

  13. You paint pictures with words; a rare talent.
    I enjoyed that as much as I enjoyed your superb pictures.
    The first is 'picture perfect'.

  14. Excellent photos Springman given that they are so hard to pin down.

  15. Congrats, great photos of the Green heron! It took me years just to see the Green Heron. After that I saw them everywhere. They are now one of my favorite herons.

  16. Being at one with nature is a state of mind and attitude. Your journey with wildlife has obviously enriched your life as evidenced by your words and exceptional pictures.

  17. You picked a terrific bird to highlight this week Springman...AND your captures of them are excellent. I think it’s very hard to curb that enthusiasm as one exits the confines of the house to ramble outside like children playing with our Grown Up Toys!

  18. Great shots of one of my favorite herons!

  19. Beautiful shots, Springman! Great job capturing so many images of such a secretive bird!

  20. I love your whimsical personal revelations. I bought the farm because being in the bush above the city was getting too crowded for me.
    Stalking herons is an art, even my white-face blue flies off the pond before I can look over the bank no matter how silently I try to open and shut two gates with rattling chains.

    I am sure all creatures are evolving all the time, we are just the dummies who don't notice it.

    Did you notice the legs of the heron in your first shot? Now if that is not slime, it surely is an explanation for it's name.

  21. Hi there - great post. I wonder how many people had their lives pushed off in strange, difficult or deadly directions because they drew ball 1?

    That first picture is remarkable.

    The birds on my blog are real! Told you I had a cracker in store!

    Cheers Stewart M

  22. Great essay -- it is so hard for me to imagine you ever living in Detroit where it seems to me it would be impossible to keep a love of nature alive. -- and I am so glad you found your perfect retreat place (I like that, "down payment on retirement"). YOur photos are perfection as well, just heart-stopping. I comment on the essay because yours is one of the few longish and small print) posts I will always take the time to read carefully. (My eyes are even older than the rest of me ;>) but your posts are worth it.

  23. Fantastic photos and read (as usual). Springman... you Rock!:)

  24. I looked your last question up the other day, since it puzzled me too.
    Supposedly the sheen on the feathers is green. Dunno about that ;-)
    Gorgeous photos, as usual!
    I can't even begin to imagine living in Detroit...

  25. Your story is awesome Springman! Ah yes, the Green Heron. I have stalked this guy many times, and only ended up with a small handfull of keeper shots, one of which I am entering in a wildlife photo contest this week. An amazing bird, and your pictures of it are amazing!

  26. What an inspiring piece about the Green Heron, and such terrific photos! It's always a mind-broadening delight to read your posts. You give so much of yourself.

  27. Once again... a thoroughly enjoyable read! And such marvelous images... WOW... the close-ups are fantastic... and the in-flight images marvelous. But my personal favorite is the one opposite your paragraph that starts with "Joe the Bird Whistler..." because even though it isn't a totally unobstructed view... to my eye, the reeds PLUS the heron are what makes the shot stunning!

  28. Fabulous ! Simply fabulous...

    After all that crawling through swamps to get your photos, you must be hungry, so another bit of not so wild fowl has been laid at your doorstep, a roaster, errr, a rooster this time ! I'm betting someone is going to be offering recipes in the comment box for coq au vin or some such...

  29. I like the encounter. You got great shots.

  30. What a delightful read and spectacular photos at which to marvel!

  31. Wonderful photos and beautiful birds!

  32. How amazing that you got so close to him! I would love that kind of experience with such a majestic bird. We have Blue Herons, Egrets and Cormorants at our weekend getaway lake in SC but we're in the water on our boat when we spot one, so the closest I've gotten at shooting them is overhead but even that is still at a good distance. Nice to meet you!

  33. You should make your blog into a book,you always have such interesting stories to tell,not to mention these photos you keep taking,they keep getting more awesome every time you post!
    I would have never guessed you were a city boy...phyllis

  34. Greetings and welcome to WBWXXXVII.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wonderful comments. This blogging thing is a labor of love and kind of a solitary pastime, that it is appreciated so well is a feeling that is hard to describe. It is a joy to visit with bird photographers from around our world and see whats on their minds and in their cameras. This week the photography has been particularly stunning. Thanks to all the kind hearted people who take the time to write their thoughts on the comment pages of all the WBW contributors. That encouragement keeps the pump primed and flowing. Contributors/commentators that is the lively balance.
    A shout out to Sallie (fulltime life)who has trouble reading the small type in these posts. My mom has this problem too. Please try holding down your control key(Ctrl) and then strike the + key. That will increase the font size! Strike the minus key next to it to bring it back.
    I have a few more blogs to enjoy yet this evening so I'll be on my way to do that now, again a million thank yous!

  35. I don't know what to say Dave, I relate so well to your story. I too enjoyed the escape from the Viet Nam fiasco via the lottery and have been appreciative ever since.

    As for the Green Heron, again, a long time photo nemesis of mine. These dreams often come to fruition by chance happenings. Of course, you must be in the proper place at the proper time to take advantage of the nature photography God's blessings.

    I was fortunate to encounter the Green Heron, now my favorite Heron, one day seeking the Belted Kingfisher on the Sacramento River. This amazing bird posed for me knowing full well that I was there taking photos. Those experiences make you feel that you are truly one with nature and you never forget them.

    I love reading of your experiences and yes, you are an exceptional writer. Your photography, it speaks for itself. These in-flight shots are marvelous and the juvenile images superb. Thanks for being such a gracious host!

  36. Really, really great series of photos. The first and last images look a lot like a juvenile Black-crowned Night-heron. :)