Butorides virescens - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Green Heron
Other English Common Names: green heron
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Butorides virescens (Linnaeus, 1758) (TSN 174793)
French Common Names: Héron vert
Spanish Common Names: Garceta Verde
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.102189
Element Code: ABNGA08010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Wading Birds
Image 11043

© Jeff Nadler

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Pelecaniformes Ardeidae Butorides
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Butorides virescens
Taxonomic Comments: Monroe and Browning (1992) reanalyzed taxonomy of Butorides and concluded that B. striatus (striated heron) and B. virescens (green heron) were separate species; AOU (1993) adopted this change. Previously, Payne (1974) had lumped striatus and virescens, and North American populations were regarded as green-backed heron, B. striatus.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 06Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 20Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Large range (southern Canada to northern South America), common in many areas.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B,N5N (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N4N5B,N3N4N,N4N5M (13Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S5B), Arizona (S4), Arkansas (S4B), California (SNR), Colorado (S3B), Connecticut (S4B), Delaware (S4B), District of Columbia (S3S4B,S3S4N), Florida (S4), Georgia (S5), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4B), Iowa (S3B), Kansas (S4B), Kentucky (S4S5B), Louisiana (S3N,S5B), Maine (S3S4B), Maryland (S5B), Massachusetts (S4B,S5M), Michigan (S4), Minnesota (SNRB), Mississippi (S5B), Missouri (SNRB), Nebraska (S4), Nevada (S4B), New Hampshire (S5B), New Jersey (S4B), New Mexico (S4B,S4N), New York (S5), North Carolina (S5B), North Dakota (S3), Ohio (S5), Oklahoma (S2B), Oregon (S4), Pennsylvania (S4B), Rhode Island (S5B,S5N), South Carolina (SNRB,SNRN), South Dakota (S2S3B), Tennessee (S4), Texas (S5B), Utah (SHB), Vermont (S4B), Virginia (S5), Washington (S3B), West Virginia (S3B), Wisconsin (S4B), Wyoming (S3N)
Canada British Columbia (S3S4B), Manitoba (S1B), New Brunswick (S1S2B,S1S2M), Ontario (S4B), Quebec (S4)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: BREEDS: southwestern British Columbia, southern Utah, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, southern Quebec, and New Brunswick south through the eastern U.S., West Indies and Middle America to eastern Panama, islands off the northern coast of Venezuela, and Tobago (AOU 1983, 1993). WINTERS: western Washington (rarely), coastal and southeastern California, southern Arizona, southern Texas, southern Louisiana, northern Florida, and South Carolina south throughout breeding range to northern Colombia and northern Venezuela (AOU 1983, 1993). In the U.S., the highest winter densities occur in Florida and in the San Joaquin Valley of California, especially between Fresno and Bakersfield (Root 1988). Wanders outside usual range (AOU 1983). Rare visitor to Hawaii.

Area of Occupancy: >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Estimate from Birdlife International (2014)

Number of Occurrences: 21 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Green Herons are solitary nesters and dispersed widely thorughmarine and freshwater habitats so estimating numbers is difficult and colonies tend to be small (Davis and Kushlan, 1994)

Population Size: 2500 - 100,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: An estimate

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Few to very many (4 to >125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Best estimate. More research needed.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threats are chemical contaminants in its environment and human disturbances, either of its habitat or its nesting sites (Davis and Kushlan, 1994).

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: The Breeding Bird Survey shows an annualized decline of 1.16% over the 20002 - 2012 time period, which is an 11% decline (Sauer, et. al. 2014).

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-70%
Long-term Trend Comments: The Breeding Bird Survey estimates a 1.56% decline over the 1996 - 2012 time period, which is an 48% decline long-term (Sauer, et. al. 2014).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Unknown
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Probably not intrinsically vulnerable but there is little data to support or oppose this estimate.

Environmental Specificity: Moderate to broad.
Environmental Specificity Comments: This species can be found in or near a broad range of habitats near water, both fresh and salt (Davis and Kushlan, 1994).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: A better inventory of the population numbers and population trends for this species is needed.

Protection Needs: Need to protect and manage wetlands of all sizes, including small ones, as these are habitats which Green Herons use (Davis and Kushlan, 1994).

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDS: southwestern British Columbia, southern Utah, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, southern Quebec, and New Brunswick south through the eastern U.S., West Indies and Middle America to eastern Panama, islands off the northern coast of Venezuela, and Tobago (AOU 1983, 1993). WINTERS: western Washington (rarely), coastal and southeastern California, southern Arizona, southern Texas, southern Louisiana, northern Florida, and South Carolina south throughout breeding range to northern Colombia and northern Venezuela (AOU 1983, 1993). In the U.S., the highest winter densities occur in Florida and in the San Joaquin Valley of California, especially between Fresno and Bakersfield (Root 1988). Wanders outside usual range (AOU 1983). Rare visitor to Hawaii.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada BC, MB, NB, ON, QC

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WILDSPACETM 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
ND Benson (38005), Bottineau (38009), McHenry (38049), Ramsey (38071), Stutsman (38093)*, Towner (38095)
SD Beadle (46005), Brookings (46011), Brown (46013), Codington (46029), Day (46037), Deuel (46039), Douglas (46043), Faulk (46049), Grant (46051), Gregory (46053), Minnehaha (46099), Yankton (46135)
UT Box Elder (49003)*, Uintah (49047)*, Washington (49053)*
WA Grays Harbor (53027)+, King (53033)+, Pierce (53053)+, Skagit (53057)+, Thurston (53067)+
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
07 Upper Minnesota (07020001)+, Lac Qui Parle (07020003)+
09 Lower Souris (09010003)+, Willow (09010004)+, Devils Lake (09020201)+
10 Fort Randall Reservoir (10140101)+, Ponca (10150001)+, James Headwaters (10160001)+*, Pipestem (10160002)+*, Upper James (10160003)+, Middle James (10160006)+, Snake (10160008)+, Lower James (10160011)+, Lewis and Clark Lake (10170101)+, Middle Big Sioux Coteau (10170201)+, Upper Big Sioux (10170202)+, Lower Big Sioux (10170203)+
14 Lower Green-Diamond (14060001)+*
15 Upper Virgin (15010008)+*, Fort Pierce Wash (15010009)+*, Lower Virgin (15010010)+*
16 Lower Bear-Malad (16010204)+*
17 Upper Chehalis (17100103), Lower Chehalis (17100104), Lower Skagit (17110007), Snoqualmie (17110010), Lake Washington (17110012), Duwamish (17110013), Nisqually (17110015), Deschutes (17110016), Puget Sound (17110019)
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small stocky wading bird.
General Description: A small stocky wading bird with relatively short legs (dull yellow; bright orange in breeding males), long straight bill, and short tail; adult has a mostly deep chestnut neck, greenish-black crown, green/blue-gray upperparts, and white mid-ventral throat region; immature is browner above, with the white throat and underparts heavily streaked with brown; total length is about 46 cm, wingspan 66 cm (NGS 1983).
Reproduction Comments: Clutch size usually is 4-5 in north, 2-3 in south. Incubation, by both sexes, lasts 19-21 days. Young fly at 21-23 days, but still fed by parents. Sometimes two broods/year. May breed at 1 year. Usually nests singly.
Ecology Comments: Generally solitary or in pairs.
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Northern populations are migratory; move north mostly in April-May, south August-November. In the western U.S., not all birds migrate. Some birds in the southern U.S. probably are sedentary or nearly so. In the north, apparently migrates by day. In Costa Rica, migrates mostly along the Caribbean coast, September-October and April-May (Stiles and Skutch 1989).

May nest a kilometer away from a foraging area.

Estuarine Habitat(s): Herbaceous wetland, Lagoon, Scrub-shrub wetland, Tidal flat/shore
Riverine Habitat(s): Low gradient
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian, SCRUB-SHRUB WETLAND, TEMPORARY POOL
Habitat Comments: Swamps, mangroves, marshes, and margins of ponds, rivers, lakes, and lagoons. Eggs are laid in platform nest in tree, thicket, or bush over water or sometimes in dry woodland or orchard; nests in both freshwater and brackish situations.
Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore, Piscivore
Food Comments: Eats fishes, crustaceans, insects, and other small animals; usually forages in shallow water (Palmer 1962). May perch motionless on snag low over water while waiting for prey to approach (Raffaele 1983).
Adult Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal
Length: 46 centimeters
Weight: 212 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Better understanding of habitat use and choice, factors influencing reproduction success, molt and plumage patterns, systematics of species still unresolved, effects of recreational disturbances on habitat usage.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Use Class: Breeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of breeding (including historical); and potential recurring breeding at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is arbitrary and does not attempt to circumscribe populations or metapopulations. Instead, the separation distance attempts to balance the high level of mobility of these birds against the need for occurrences that are of practical size for conservation purposes.
Date: 23Jul2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of concentrations of non-breeding birds (including historical), and potential recurring presence at a given location. Normally only areas where concentrations greater than 5 birds occur regularly for at least 20 days per year would be deemed EOs. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is arbitrary.
Date: 23Jul2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 28Feb2014
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Jue, Dean K.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 27Apr1995
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): HAMMERSON, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • See SERO listing

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