Our Beautiful World

Gråhegre, Grey Heron, Ardea cinerea  

© http://www.ecosystema.ru/

Photo © Jørgen Scheel
The Grey Heron, Ardea cinerea is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, native throughout temperate Europe and Asia
and also parts of Africa. It is resident in the milder south and west, but many birds retreat in winter from the ice in colder areas.

Photo: © Dennis Olsen
It is a large bird, standing 90-100 cm tall, with a 175-195 cm wingspan and a weight of 1-2 kg.
Its plumage is largely grey above, and off-white below.
Adults have a white head with a broad black supercilium and slender crest, while immatures have a dull grey head.
It has a powerful pinkish-yellow bill, which is brighter in breeding adults.
It has a slow flight, with its long neck retracted (S-shaped).
This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes and spoonbills, which extend their necks.

Photo © Jørgen Scheel
It is closely related and similar to the American Great Blue Heron, which differs in slightly larger size, and chestnut-brown
flanks and thighs. The Australian White-faced Heron is often incorrectly called Grey Heron.

Photo: Ib Rasmussen

Photo: © John Lynn
.This species breeds in colonies in trees close to lakes, the sea-shore or other wetlands, although it will also nest in reed beds.
It builds a bulky stick nest.

Photo © Jørgen Scheel

It feeds in shallow water, catching fish or frogs with its long bill. Herons will also take small mammals and birds.
It will often wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim.

ARKive video - Grey heron - overview
Grey Heron - Overview
© David Element

© Frans Freijee
In the Netherlands, the grey heron has become a very common species in recent decades by moving into urban environments
in great numbers. There, the herons hunt as they usually would but also make use of food discarded by humans,
will visit feeding times in zoos to birds such as penguins and pelicans and some individuals even make use of people
feeding them at their homes.


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