An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Green Heron Feet

8-9-17 green heron feet2 049A1710The structure of a Green Heron’s foot lends itself to a life of wading at the water’s edge while foraging for food and not sinking into the sand. Three long toes pointing forward and one pointing backward create a considerable amount of surface area, and the more the surface area the less pressure that is placed on the sand. Webbing between its outer toes adds to the snowshoe effect (and also aids the heron when it dives below the surface of the water for prey and must swim back to shore).

This foot structure comes in handy when wading in shallow water, standing on emergent vegetation or perched a low-hanging branch at the water’s edge. As testimony to this, the pictured Green Heron spent an entire morning navigating from water lily pad to water lily pad foraging for fish, insects, frogs and other aquatic life.

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5 responses

  1. Marilyn

    Swimming! Walking on lily pads! Impressive. I’ve seen them so rarely, perched in a tree, on a wire. So they’re special, to me.

    August 9, 2017 at 8:11 am

  2. If you’re doing more feet, please do one on the wonderful feet of the American coot!

    August 9, 2017 at 8:25 am

  3. Alice Pratt

    That seems like quite a ‘feat’ to walk on lilypads! I thought that these birds were larger! Just looked them up…hope you don’t mind me adding to your post, Mary: “about the size of an American Crow and weigh 8.5 oz.” so interesting.

    August 9, 2017 at 8:43 am

  4. I love the photo and light on the Heron,Beautiful !
    The most memorable photo you have posted is the red tails at the nest,just love that one!

    August 9, 2017 at 9:00 am

  5. Bill On The Hill...

    This has turned into a most allusive bird for me to catch a shot of while out kayaking the waters in both NH & VT… I have loads of Great Blues but not a one on this beauty!
    Great post Mary.
    Bill Farr…

    August 9, 2017 at 1:24 pm

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