It was cooler the other morning, so I took a long delayed stroll down to the Tuolumne River Parkway trail, currently under construction (it's been really hot the last few days). There were quite a few birds down along the river, more than I have seen in many weeks. Lots of Scrub Jays, Mockingbirds, Yellow-billed Magpies, an Egret, several Black-chinned Hummingbirds, a high-flying hawk, and a California Towhee.
The best surprise of the day, though, was seeing a pair of Green Herons (Butorides virescens) fishing along the river. I don't see them often. I had one in my backyard trying to chase down our goldfish in the pond several years ago, but aside from that, not so many. And I've never seen them pulling the little Mohawk trick with their head feathers. I didn't know it was a Green Heron at first.
According to the Cornell Ornithology site, the Green Heron is one of the few birds known to use tools. They have been seen using worms, insects or twigs as lures to bring fish closer. That's a rather sharp tactic!
I'm looking forward to the completion of the River Parkway trail. The Tuolumne River in the Sierra Nevada foothills and on the Great Valley floor is a fascinating place, and deserves more attention. The parkway will be a great asset for the local schools to bring a little more nature into their learning environment.