Juvenile Green Heron

On Sunday, September 22nd I started off my morning at the Richmond Lagoons. The weather was far from ideal – it was cold and overcast, with a blustery wind that made my eyes water almost constantly. I was hoping to find some waterfowl in the middle cell (the only one with any water) but the pond was completely empty. I heard a Gray Catbird calling from the dense vegetation somewhere behind me and saw a Blue Jay flying over; a pair of Swamp Sparrows popped their heads up when I started pishing. Perhaps because of the wind, very few birds were about.

On my way out I turned to look into the wooded area by the gate and spotted a bird sitting on a branch. It was a fairly large bird, and I was surprised to see that it was a Green Heron….and that it was heavily speckled and had a large amount of downy white feathers still covering its head.

Geen Heron

Geen Heron

This is the latest I’ve ever seen a Green Heron this young. Green Herons should be flying south now; while eBird indicates that they may linger into mid-October, I usually see my last Green Heron in mid- to late-September, and normally they do not have any downy white feathers left. This was clearly a young bird, and I hoped it knew that it needed to leave soon.

The wind was unpleasant, so I left after taking a few pictures of the heron. On Old Richmond Road I spotted four Turkey Vultures soaring above the road where a skunk lay dead; another Turkey Vulture was circling above a dead raccoon a little further along near Fallowfield Road. Roadkill is a common sight along Old Richmond south of Bell’s Corners. Many mammals and turtles call Stony Swamp and the rural farmland beyond the conservation area home, and wildlife trying to cross Old Richmond often get hit by cars. I wish the city would put a “Slow Down for Wildlife” sign where the road passes through Stony Swamp, or better yet, some sort of tunnel or underpass that would allow animals to cross the road in complete safety.

I stopped in a Sarsaparilla Trail but didn’t see anything of interest other than a Pileated Woodpecker in the woods. They show up sporadically here, and it is always a surprise when I see one. The only waterfowl on the pond were a flock of Canada Geese and four mallards.

It was definitely not a great day to be outside looking for birds; I felt lucky to find the Green Heron and the Pileated Woodpecker, and went home feeling satisfied with those two birds.

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