Green-backed HeronButorides striata

  • Mangroves & Estuaries
  • Avifauna
  • Heron

General description

Green-backed herons can often be seen along the coastline, in river mouths and in mangrove swamps, looking out for a prey to catch in the water. These species are a small heron that can be found across the tropics.  They have a blue-grey back and wings, white underparts, a black cap and a dark line which extends from the bill to under the eye. The majority of the species is sedentary, although there are some migratory populations and sedentary populations sometime disperse. It is a very territorial species, hunting and nesting solitarily. They usually nest in a shallow structure of twigs hidden among the branches of trees and bushes. Occasionally, green backed herons have been seen nesting in loosely spaced single species groups or larger breeding aggregations. The timing for breeding varies geographically although it tends to occur during the rainy season in the tropics. 

Habitat and ecology

Green-backed herons prefer forested water margins such as mangrove swamps and estuaries or dense woody vegetation along ponds, rivers, lakes and streams. They can also be seen along river swamps, canals, artificial ponds, salt flats, mud flats, the intertidal zone and exposed coral reefs as well as grassy marshlands, pastures and areas that are flooded for cultivation. The green-backed heron is an adept fisher and can be seen waiting patiently to ambush their prey or even using bait to attract the latter. Their diet may vary according to their geographic location but is dominated by fish as well as amphibians. Green-backed herons may also eat insects, spiders, leeches, crustaceans, molluscs, worms, small birds, small reptiles and mice.


Conservation status and threats

Due to its wide range and population numbers, the green-backed heron is considered Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is nevertheless threatened by human disturbance, pesticides and habitat destruction. In some areas, green-backed herons are hunted for food. 

Did you know?

The Green-backed heron has been known to attract fish and other prey to the surface of the water by capturing and dropping an insect on the surface or it may stir up the water.