Barry Kent MacKayArt by Barry Kent MacKay
Art and Photo Presentation

In this section are copies of original works of art. All of them are dedicated to helping us live according to unconditional love and compassion, which is the foundation of our peaceful means of bringing true and lasting peace to all of God's creatures, whether they are human beings or other animals.

Green Heron (Butorides virescens)

Green Heron (Butorides virescens)
(Artwork - 183)
Green Heron (Butorides virescens)

This oil painting shows an adult Green Heron (Butorides virescens) with a nestling who has left the nest a little early, as often happens with herons.

In my lifetime the Green Heron, native to North and Central America and the West Indies, has had three English names. When I was a child it was called the Little Green Heron. And then it was decided that it was a subspecies of the widely distributed Striated Heron (B. striata), found in tropical and warm temperate regions through much of the rest of the world, and the “official” English name of both species was changed to Green-backed Heron. But that decision got reversed, “little” got dropped, and for now it is simply the Green Heron. The species name, “virescens” is Latin for greenish-coloured, which fits, except in certain lighting conditions the colour of the adult can look more turquoise, or even a sort of cerulean blue, than green. The genus name, Butorides, derives from butor, which is Middle English for “bittern” plus oides, from Ancient Greek, meaning “like” or “reminiscent of”. Bitterns, egrets and herons are all in the same family.

This crow-sized heron is reasonably common, but often overlooked by non-birders, and compared with other heron species, can be rather solitary, and more active at dusk or dawn or nocturnally, as a rule, than during daylight. They like wooded areas, often nesting near the ground in thick foliage, such as Eastern (Northern) White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis). They are also, in common with other herons, shape-changers, in that they can have their neck folded in close to the body, as I’ve shown in my painting, or stretch it out far enough to make up about half the body length, or have it partly folded in between. In flight it is held folded in.

Green Herons have achieved recognition as one of a growing list of non-human animals that can be called “tool users”. These herons have been observed and photographed carrying food to where it can be dropped into water to lure fish into striking distance. Small fish, reptiles, amphibians and large aquatic insects do make up the bulk of their natural prey, although any small animal will do.

This approximately life-size painting is on Russian birch and is 16 by 20 inches. I’ve also included a pen and ink study I did from a live bird in 1993, after it was found and picked up by well-meaning people who didn’t realize that the parents were probably still caring for it. It was successfully raised and released back to the wild by my mother, an experienced wildlife rehabilitator.

Green Heron (Butorides virescens)

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Barry describes himself as a Canadian artist/writer/naturalist.
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