The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Green-backed Heron

Afrikaans name: Groenrugreier

Green-backed Heron

Green-backed Heron

Photo © Steven Herbert

Butorides striatus

The Green-backed Heron is a small heron weighing only around 200 grams and having a length of about 40 cm.

In South Africa their distribution is mainly confined to the northern and southern regions of the country. They can be found near virtually any inland water habitat that is lined with dense vegetation.

The Green-backed Heron is a shy species and is often overlooked as it sits quietly in the vegetation. They do most of their hunting during the day.

They feed on a variety of animals that can be found in or near the water. These include fish, frogs, insects, small reptiles and spiders.

The pair builds a nest made of twigs and reeds usually a few metres off the ground. Sometimes it is made above the water. Between 2 and 5 eggs are laid and the eggs and young are tended to by both parents.

Green-backed Heron amongst the reeds

Green-backed Heron skulking in the reeds

Photo © Steven Herbert

References and further reading

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 30

Wading Birds of the World - Revised edition - Author: Eric and Richard Soothill - Published: 1989 - Page: 28

The Herons Handbook - Author: James Hancock and James Kushlan - Published: 1984 - Page: 172

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Published: 1989 - Page: 24

The Birds of South Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Published: 1949 - Page: 23

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 2nd edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1957 - Page: 25

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 2011 - Page: 66

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 1993 - Page: 62

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1993 - Page: 55

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1985 - Page: 55

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1981 - Page: 38

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1975 - Page: 35

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 2000 - Page: 66

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 1984 - Page: 66

Freshwater Life - Author: C. Griffiths, J. Day & M. Picker - Published: 2015 - Page: 54

Ian Sinclairs Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair - Published: 1988 - Page: 56

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Published: 1991 - Page: 30

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Published: 1999 - Page: 9

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Published: 1987 - Page: 54

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Published: 1987 - Page: 19

Birds of the Transkei - Author: C.D. Quickelberge - Published: 1989 - Page: 31

Bird Atlas of Natal - Author: Digby Cyrus and Nigel Robson - Published: 1980 - Page: 42

Birds of Southern Africa - Kruger National Park - Author: Kenneth Newman - Published: 1985 - Page: 14

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1975 - Page: 173

A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: O.P.M. Prozesky - Published: 1983 - Page: 38

A First Guide to South African Birds - 6th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1959 - Page: 173

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