April 23, 2015

1534 UNITED KINGDOM (British Indian Ocean Territory) - Little green heron

The biodiversity of the BIOT is very rich, particularly in the marine environment which contains some of the world's healthiest coral reefs, the world's largest coral atoll (the Great Chagos Bank) and an exceptional diversity of deep water habitats. On land, BIOT is recognised as globally important due to the large numbers of congregating and nesting seabirds. The birds of the BIOT fall into three groups: the resident landbirds, the migrants and vagrants, and the seabirds. Only three resident landbirds are believed to have arrived as natural colonists: Common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), White-breasted waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus), and Green-backed Heron (Butorides striata).

Butorides striata was previously split as B. striata and B. virescens, and before then B. striata was split as B. striatus and B. sundevalli, but now is considered a single species. Relatively small (about 44cm), the Green-backed heron (known also as Little green heron, Striated heron or Mangrove heron) has a glossy, greenish-black cap, a greenish back and wings that are grey-black grading into green or blue, a chestnut neck with a white line down the front, grey underparts and short yellow legs. An extremely adaptable wetland bird, the green heron occupies almost any shallow fresh, brackish or saltwater habitat within its range. 

The species is most conspicuous during dusk and dawn, and if anything these birds are nocturnal rather than diurnal. Shore-living individuals adapt to the rhythm of the tides. They mainly eat small fish, frogs and aquatic arthropods, but may take any invertebrate or vertebrate prey they can catch. Green herons are intolerant of other birds - including conspecifics - when feeding and aren't seen to forage in groups. They typically stand still on shore or in shallow water or perch upon branches and await prey. Sometimes they drop food, insects, or other small objects on the water's surface to attract fish, making them one of the few known tool-using species.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of a series of definitives stamps, Birds, issued on June 21, 2004:
Madagascar fody / Foudia madagascariensis (2p)
Barred ground dove / Geopelia striata (14p)
Indian mynah / Acridotheres tristis (20p)
Cattle egret / Bubulcus ibis (26p)
Fairy tern / Sternula nereis (34p)
Masked booby / Sula dactylatra (58p) - It's on the postcard

British Indian Ocean Territory - Oxford Plant Systematics
Green-backed Heron Butorides striata - BirdLife International official website
Important Bird Areas - The British Indian Ocean Territory, by Peter Carr

Sender: Gulmira
Ssent from Camp Justice (British Indian Ocean Territory / United Kingdom), on 27.02.2015

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