Green Heron

Butorides virescens (Linnaeus, 1758) HR GRBHE 1070
Family: Pelecaniformes > Ardeidae

Green Heron, Simon Gillings

An extremely rare visitor from North America, the habit of this small, dark, heron of ejecting a stream of white defecation as it flies away, leads to alternative names such as "shite-polk" and "chalk-line".

One of the few tool-using birds, Green Heron commonly drops bait (such as bread crusts, insects, twigs, or feathers) onto the surface of the water and grabs the small fish that are attracted.

With just a handful of records, it perhaps no surprise that a long-staying individual at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall – which stayed from 6 October to 1 December 2010 – attracted crowds of birders.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Green Heron

  • Breeding
  • Winter


387 records observations recorded by BTO surveyors
387 records



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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.


We have no population estimates for this scarce species.


This species is a rare vagrant and was recorded during Bird Atlas 2007–11 as shown on the map.

Green Heron winter distribution 2008-11
Britain and Ireland Winter Distribution 2008-2011.
More from the Atlas Mapstore.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK


This vagrant is too rarely reported to map distribution change.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.


Lifecycle and body size information about Green Heron, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Sample sizes are too small to report Productivity and Nesting statistics for this species.


Sample sizes are too small to report Biometrics for this species.

Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Welsh: Crëyr Gwyrdd
Czech: volavka zelenavá
Danish: Krabbehejre
Dutch: Groene Reiger
Estonian: punakael-väikehaigur
Finnish: amerikankyyryhaikara
French: Héron vert
German: Grünreiher
Hungarian: zöld gém
Icelandic: Grænhegri
Italian: Airone verde
Latvian: zalais garnis
Lithuanian: žalsvasis naktikovis
Norwegian: Grønnrygghegre
Polish: czapla zielona
Portuguese: socó-mirím
Slovak: caplicka zelenkavá
Slovenian: ameriška zelena caplja
Spanish: Garcilla Verde
Swedish: grönryggig häger

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