A Green Heron reacts to a Broad-winged Hawk

Green HeronGreen Heron – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/320, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

One morning in 2008 I photographed this Green Heron at Sawgrass County Park in Pinellas County, Florida as it perched and preened on broken branch that was laying in the water. The Green Heron seemed oblivious of me as I photographed it from the boardwalk. In fact It didn’t often even look in my direction. The people walking past me as I laid flat on my stomach on the boardwalk with my lens poking through the slats paid me far more attention than the bird. Of course they were probably wondering what I was doing period.

A very alert Green HeronA very alert Green Heron – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/200, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 260mm, natural light

Suddenly the Green Heron stood up, stretched out its neck, raised the feathers on its head and appeared to stare up into the sky. It really struck a chord in me because the bird looked funny but I kept photographing it and watched as it hunkered down on the branch. I was curious about what the heron was looking at so I raised my lens to the sky.

Juvenile Broad-winged HawkJuvenile Broad-winged Hawk – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

High overhead I could make out the shape of a raptor that had flown over the Green Heron and realized that the bird was a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk. It is a terrible photo but I kept it so I could remind myself why the heron struck some odd looking poses.

When I go out photographing I go with the thought that I never know what amazing things I might see and those wonderful moments happen more than I can keep track of.

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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. very nice this heron, with a good attitude on second shot, well captured mia, bravo =))

  2. Loekie van der Wal

    Welcome to your “new home” and I’m really happy that your move went pretty smooth. As usual I love these pictures from the Heron and even the Hawk I find pretty good. But I know you as a fantastic photographer is always very critical. Did you have a chance to go to Montana, or did the provider move kept you home?
    Sorry I put my wrong email down. This is the right one.

    • Thanks Loekie.

      The move had me staying very busy and I had hoped to go up to Montana this week but the weather is forecasted to be rainy so I will wait for better weather.

  3. Mia, welcome to your new home. I am glad the transition went well. I love these shots. Green herons always amaze me with the way they can transform themselves!

    • Kathie, thank you, it is so nice to be on a host where my blog works and I don’t have to struggle all the time with hosting issues. Green Herons are fun birds. There have been at least two spottings of them here this summer, one near Farmington Bay and the other at Bear River. I didn’t get to see those though I wish I had.

  4. Wow. Love the green heron – and his attitudes. The more I watch birds, the more I learn. And I too do ‘mad woman with camera’ dances as I watch…

  5. Merrill Ann Gonzales

    I really appreciate a post like this. Having kept the whole sequence intact you make it possible for me to be in the field with you and to get a glimpse of nature in action.
    In the first photo there’s a lovely rhythm to the feathering that almost gives you a feeling of the motions the bird took just before the photo was snapped. Just lovely. :-)

  6. Hello there. I found my here via “Viewing Nature With Eileen”. I love your blog and your photography is fabulous and I’m signing on to follow. I know what you mean about those pesky power lines. I would invite you to visit my blog sometime as well. Have a great weekend.

  7. Great Heron shots! And also the reason why he was stretching up..I am forever trying to know what birds are thinking. Thanks Mia.

  8. Wow, Mia! Beautiful photos of the Green Heron.
    Wayne and I got to see one recently at the bird refuge. I was so thrilled.

    I’m so happy to see you back!

  9. Great sequence…really tells a story. Love pose, detail, composition of first frame and “What the heck is that? I’d better make myself look big and scary!” pose in the second. Your idea of a “lousy” shot would be my idea of one of my best!

    • Thanks Patty, I love the “what the heck is that pose” too. I wish the hawk had been in better light but I was still happy to know what caused the heron to look so silly.

  10. Great captures Mia! Your absolutely right about never knowing what amazing things we may encounter while outdoors. I enjoy you sharing what you see in your part of the country.

  11. Well done on capturing both. The middle image made me laugh!

  12. Cool shots, Mia! His feathers are raised. I love the Green Heron! Happy weekend to you!

  13. Beautiful Green Heron, especially the the first one, superb.

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