GREEN HERON LEARNS THE TRADE

Green Heron Centerton August 26, 2016-5r

Hatched this year, this Green Heron is learning the heron trade. Craig State Fish
Hatchery in Centerton is a sort of school for them. There’s lots to learn and not a
lot of time to learn it. As I sat in the car watching today, it was working the
bountiful universe of a pond’s edge. Several times it caught small fish sideways in
its bill. An adult would have done one flip, then, head first, the fish would have
gone down the old hatch. This youngster would turn the caught fish this way, then
that way, sometimes drop it, and start again. Practice-practice-practice: stuff just
has to be learned. One time it stealthily walked up on a dark twig and GRABBED it,
then recognized the error. It became distracted by some aquatic flies and chased
them on the mudflat.

Food-wise, what doesn’t work is slowly replaced by the adult’s sure fire and
hunger-satisfying grabs — at fish, frogs, crayfish, and the like. In terms of Green
Herons like this one, school is still open through September, maybe a bit into
October. But sometime in there, it will graduate as a skilled hunter, cum laude, of
aquatic foods — and then migrate southward. – Joe Neal, August 26, 2016

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