Nutrition and Hunting

Green herons are carnivores and excellent hunters, which allows them to consume a wide variety of marine life. They mainly hunt small fish and invertebrates, but have been known to eat everything from crabs, crayfish, prawns, snakes, lizards, rodents, toads and frogs to leeches, worms, dragonflies, damselflies, water bugs, tadpoles and grasshoppers. Some of the many fish species that they eat include minnows, sunfish, catfish, perch and eels.


HUNTING: Green herons are most effective hunters in shallow waters, usually no deeper than about 4 inches. They feed in the early morning or late in the evening, which makes them more difficult to spot. The most common hunting technique is to crouch low on a floating log or reeds until a small fish or insect comes within striking distance. They may also perch on an overhanging limb at the water’s edge, and then very slowly, sneak closer and closer to the water’s surface until it can lunge forward and grab any small creature within its reach.  

Green Herons also use a variety of other techniques when the “sit quietly and wait” method isn’t getting the job done. One example of this is raking; which is when the heron uses its feet to stir up animals in the water in hopes of making them move.  

They are also only one of a few tool-using birds! Cleverly, they will find a feather or catch a small bug like a mayfly, drop it on the water’s surface, and then wait to see what comes to its bait.