Green Heron – Preening


I get a lot of enjoyment watching a bird preen its feathers.  They do it so carefully, so precise.  With their beak, no less!

Of course, preening is vital to a bird’s survival.  It is a maintenance behavior where a bird uses its beak to position feathers, interlock feather barbules that have become separated, clean plumage, and keep parasites in check.

This beautiful Green Heron was really giving its feathers a workout.  Out of the series I shot, I liked these five photos, three of which show the Green Heron cleaning a specific feather.


Green Heron preening


I think that last photo told me to move on…..which I did!  🙂



40 thoughts on “Green Heron – Preening

  1. I like this series, especially the gestures in pulling of the feather in the two images, So you think the bird was giving you a signal ,do you? Nice that you observe and give them space. I need to remember to do this as well.

    • Thank you, Jane! I got lucky without being noticed so it was a nice time just watching, then taking a few photos, watch some more, and few more photos. The heron was intently focused on its cleaning, which made my watch that much more wonderful! Yepper, after that last photo, I bid adieu with a nice thank you! 😊

  2. I bet it is fascinating to watch. I love watching my cat groom. It’s very calming. I’ve awoken in the middle of the night from a bad dream and seeing my cat still sleeping puts me back to sleep.

  3. I really like your dedicated way of documenting the birds’ daily lives. One becomes more and more surprised at how little we really know. Just to see how the heron gently pulls a feather through its beak. Top Photos!

    • Thank you very much, Hans! I love spending time watching (hopefully unnoticed by the subject) and capture bird/wildlife behavior and action. And in turn, wildlife has taught me the value of being a more patient person in life as a whole. 😊

  4. Birds are always a ball to watch preening. It is interesting how most birds including the Green Heron have their preening gland on the base of their backs, drawing from it . I love how they use their beaks condition their feathers with the oil from the gland and make them shine. Lovely shots Donna of the process.

    • Thank you, Ashley! It’s amazing how the preening gland is tucked away, yet an easy reach for a bird to draw from. And, first to know/learn it is there and what the bird’s routine needs to be done to survive.

  5. Your photography is great. I love your bird photographs. I wished to take as you… But I think, I can only share your feelings and excitement about taking their photographs. Our Heron came yesterday and I was so excited. Thank you dear Donna, Love, nia

    • Thank you very much for your kind comments, Nia ❤ I am happy you share in my excitement in finding beautiful birds in our world. I am so happy to hear your Heron has visited, I hope there is plenty of fish and s/he continues to visit often for meals! 😊

  6. I like the waders when preening because they all have long neck, long beaks and then contortion their bodies so much the accommodate the preening parts, also giving us the photographers the most interesting shots angles. You captured this time, quite good ones. 🙂

  7. Simply lovely. I finally get to see why they’re called Green Herons in that marvelous shot of the top of the head. (Green Heron Preening 2)

    • Thank you, Gunta! After seeing so many this past winter, I’ve come to love this bird as one of my favorites. I could not get enough of trying to capture their coloring. 😊

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