Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - African Wildlife and Nature Photographs

Grey Heron

Family: Ardeidae

Genus: Ardea

The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) is a common member of the Heron family, spread over a large area the globe the Grey Heron is a fairly large wading bird with a range that stretches from inside the Arctic circle to the far south of Southern Africa.

The Grey Heron is a large bird, standing up to 100 cm (39 in) tall and measuring 84–102 cm (33–40 in) long with a 155–195 cm (61–77 in) wing span and is as you would expect largely grey in colour and a dirty white below. The Grey Heron also has a large broad black stripe or supercilium that stretches from the base of the beak to the back of the head, with a slight slender crest of feathers.

Like all Herons the Grey Heron is slow in flight and flies with the tell, tell 'S' curve or retracted neck which helps with it's field identification. Normally standing motionless in the shallows or from some large vantage point like a large rock the Grey Heron catches its prey of fish, frogs and insects with its long sharp bill. The Grey Heron has also been known to take small mammals and reptiles to supplement its diet. The 'bill' can be projected at speed due to the Grey Herons 'S' curved neck which greatly assists it hunting prowess.

Breeding close to lakes, rivers and even the seashore in large colonies (100 pairs) called 'Heronries'. In Southern Africa Grey Herons are often found roosting with other birds like the Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis), Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) and White-breasted Cormorants (Phalacrocorax lucidus) where the Grey Heron normally builds a large stick nest and the females lays between 1-4 blueish/green eggs.

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