18 inches. Quite a tiny Heron. The forehead, crown and nape are black. The eye is surrounded with yellow. The body is brown to grey, the wing feathers are piped clear grey. The back is black for the juveniles. Yellow stripes emphasize the face, throat and chest. The beak is black. It is strong and straight. The legs are yellow. Quite a secretive species, not easily observed.
Not to be confused with the Pacific Reef-egret (Egretta sacra) with a long neck which is folded in flight and sometimes at rest.
Category: Large range Waterbirds
The species is widespread in the world. The population of Tahiti is an endemic subspecies (Butorides striata patruelis) which is additionally present in this island in French Polynesia.
Nests in the coastal vegetation and river entrance, in the undergrowth purau, sometimes in valleys.
Loud calls « chriau… », « crouiii… ».
To listen the Green-backed Heron:
Recording in september 2017 (Green-backed Heron in Tahiti):
Food time for a Green-backed Heron family in Tahiti (video of Alain Petit):
Nests are usually built at the entrance and overhanging rivers. From September to May, several broods are attempted and nests are reused several times at 12 to 38 day intervals. An egg, green lemon (41 x 30 mm) is incubated for 25-29 days. The newborn is fed in the nest by one of the parents for 10-17 days. Follows a one-week period where the young evolves near the nest. He returns there in case of danger or to be supplied with food. He emancipates gradually but remains dependent until the 49th day.
Original text by Caroline BLANVILLAIN – Supplements and update by various members of the SOP Manu.
Scientific Name: Butorides striata (Peale, 1848)
A’o, ao, ‘ao (Tahiti)
The subspecies of Tahiti is seriously threatened by the development of waterfronts and rivers and the gradual disappearance of purau forests (Hibiscus tiliaceus). Its rate of reproductive success (20% of broods) is small and is linked to low food availability. Estimates: 150 ± 50 individuals from 1971 to 1974, sixty individuals in 2019.
The species is listed in category A of the list of species protected by the territorial regulations of French Polynesia. It is classified as “Least Concern” (LC) on the IUCN Red List but “Critically endangered” (CR) sur la France and Polynesia 2015 IUCN Red List.