Grey Heron

Grey heron-small

Identification:

Height 90-98 cm
Weight up to 2 kg
Bright white crown
Black line running from above and behind the eye to the nape and extending as a spike-like crest
White neck with a double row of black streaks down the throat
Underparts grey
Black patch from shoulder down to flanks
Grey back and wings
Long, yellow bill
Greenish-yellow legs and feet
All-grey underwing

Habitat:

Colonial breeder, usually in trees in most of Europe, sometimes on a cliff or in reedbeds in the east; race monicae nests on the ground on islets. Frequents the margins of a variety of freshwater including lakes, streams and swamps, brackish lagoons and estuaries, and often sea-coasts. Also feeds or rests on grassland.
In some parts of range a common bird in urban areas. The Grey Heron is a familiar bird of lakes, rivers, pans and also rocky coastlines where it is usually seen hunting in shallow water.

Behaviour:

Birds spend long periods standing still in the water, waiting patiently for prey to swim within range of a lightning fast lunge of the bill.
They have occasionally been observed to swim.

Flight:

Like others of the family, the Grey heron flies with its long neck retracted and the head pulled back into its shoulders.

Diet:

Opportunist feeders, Grey herons eat a wide variety of fish, invertebrates, ducklings and land animals, such as rats and young rabbits.
They have even been recorded catching swifts, by ambushing them under a low level bridge.

Vocalisation:

The call is a harsh kraaank.

Breeding:

Colonial breeders, often mixed with other species such as egrets, cormorants and spoonbills. The colony is almost always associated with water – fresh or salt.
The nest is an untidy platform of sticks, usually at the top of a tall tree. Usual clutch size is 3-4 eggs.

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