[A green heron stands on a log floating in muddy water. It is very still. It looks down at the water, and its movements are slow. Suddenly, it quickly stretches its neck and head out, striking at and catching a fish. It swallows the fish, then fluffs its feathers. It goes after another, smaller fish, catches it, and swallows it.] [Explore Macaulaylibrary.org]

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Birds use many different strategies to acquire food. In the sit-and-wait approach, waterbirds such as this Green Heron stand completely still in shallow water, waiting for a fish to swim by, which it then spears with its long, sharp beak. Here, an alert Green Heron hunts for fish. These small herons hunt day and night, crouching patiently to surprise fish with a snatch of their dagger-like bill. They sometimes lure in fish using small items such as twigs or insects as bait. Unlike larger herons, Green Heron usually don’t wade, but rather hunt in shallow water, from solid ground, or when standing on vegetation.

This video accompanies Chapter 8, Avian Food and Foraging, Handbook of Bird Biology, 3rd Edition from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Wiley Publishing.

Recorded by Benjamin M Clock, Macaulay Library