Chris Schuurmans, the Assistant Superintendent at Victoria Park East has provided us with a wildlife update. Enjoy….
Golf courses are very dynamic ecosystems with a wide variety of resident wildlife. Over the course of the season we will be featuring some of the wildlife that can be seen on the golf course, how to identify them and a bit about their behaviour. If there are any animals that you see on the course and would like to know, let me know and I’ll do my best to help. I’m new to this sort of thing, so bare with me, it’s a learning experience.
To start things off, we’ll look at Butorides virescens, or more commonly, the Green Heron. Green Herons are beautiful birds with a deep-green back, rich chestnut-brown neck, dark grey wings and yellow legs (juveniles are browner with pale streaking on the neck and spots on the wings). They are shorter and stockier than most herons, with short legs and thick necks that are often drawn in against their body. Green Herons hunt by standing motionless at the waters edge or in the shallows, and ambush fish or amphibians with their heavy dagger-like bill. Interestingly, they are one of the world’s few tool-using bird species. They actually create lures from insects, worms feathers, twigs and other objects to entice fish to them. During the breeding season, Green Herons perform courtship displays that include stretching their necks, snapping their bills, flying with exaggerated flaps, and calling loudly. The male will find a secluded are in his territory and begin building a nest before pairing up to breed, but afterwards passes most of the construction off to his mate. The pair will have a clutch of 3-5 eggs that they will incubate for 19-21 days. Chicks will leave the nest 16-17 days after hatching, but may stay with the parents for over a month after leaving the nest as they learn to hunt.
Green Herons are rather common, but can be very difficult to spot, so keep your eyes pealed when you’re around the ponds and creeks, and you may catch a glimpse of this gorgeous bird.