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Markus Lagerqvist | profile | all galleries >> Birds of the World >> Non Passerines >> Herons, Egrets & Bitterns tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

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Herons, Egrets & Bitterns

The 67 species of Herons, Egrets and Bitterns (Ardeidae) are medium to large sized birds with long legs and necks. They are a widespread family with a cosmopolitan distribution. They exist on all continents except Antarctica, and are present in most habitats except the coldest extremes of the Arctic, extremely high mountains and the driest deserts.

Almost all species are associated with water, they are essentially non-swimming waterbirds that feed on the margins of lakes, rivers, swamps, ponds and the sea. They are predominately found in lowland areas, although some species live in alpine areas, and the majority of species occur in the tropics.

The diet includes a wide variety of aquatic animals, including fish, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic insects. The most common hunting technique is for the bird to sit motionless on the edge of or standing in shallow water and wait until prey comes within range. Birds may either do this from an upright posture, giving them a wider field of view for seeing prey, or from a crouched position, which is more cryptic and means the bill is closer to the prey when it is located. Having seen prey the head is moved from side to side, so that the heron can calculate the position of the prey in the water and compensate for refraction, and then the bill is used to spear the prey. Some species of heron , such as the Little Egret and Grey Heron, have been documented using bait in order to lure prey to within striking distance.
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Capped Heron (Pilherodius pileatus)
Capped Heron (Pilherodius pileatus)
Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis)
Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)
Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)
Rufescent Tiger Heron (Tigrisoma lineatum	)
Rufescent Tiger Heron (Tigrisoma lineatum )
Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia)
Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia)
Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia) and Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia) and Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
White-crested Tiger Heron (Tigriornis leucolopha)
White-crested Tiger Heron (Tigriornis leucolopha)
White-crested Tiger Heron (Tigriornis leucolopha)
White-crested Tiger Heron (Tigriornis leucolopha)
White-crested Tiger Heron (Tigriornis leucolopha)
White-crested Tiger Heron (Tigriornis leucolopha)
Striated Heron (Butorides striata striata)
Striated Heron (Butorides striata striata)
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula thula)
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula thula)
Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana)
Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana)
Forest Bittern (Zonerodius heliosylus)
Forest Bittern (Zonerodius heliosylus)
Pacific Reef Heron (Egretta sacra)
Pacific Reef Heron (Egretta sacra)
Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus)
Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus)
Forest Bittern
Forest Bittern
Chinese Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchus)
Chinese Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchus)
White-eared Night Heron (Gorsachius magnificus)
White-eared Night Heron (Gorsachius magnificus)
Black-headed Heron (Ardea melanocephala)
Black-headed Heron (Ardea melanocephala)
Eastern Cattle Egret (Bubulcus coromandus)
Eastern Cattle Egret (Bubulcus coromandus)
Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis)
Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis)
Great Egret (Ardea alba modesta)
Great Egret (Ardea alba modesta)
Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii)
Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii)
Rufescent Tiger-Heron (Tigrisoma lineatum)
Rufescent Tiger-Heron (Tigrisoma lineatum)
Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius)
Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius)
Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus)
Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus)
Striated Heron (Butorides striata rutenbergi)
Striated Heron (Butorides striata rutenbergi)
Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)
Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)
Chinese/Javan Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchus/speciosa)
Chinese/Javan Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchus/speciosa)
Humblot's Heron (Ardea humbloti)
Humblot's Heron (Ardea humbloti)
Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
Cocoi Heron (Ardea cocoi)
Cocoi Heron (Ardea cocoi)
Black-headed Heron (Ardea melanocephala)
Black-headed Heron (Ardea melanocephala)
Great Egret (Ardea alba)
Great Egret (Ardea alba)
Great Egret (Ardea alba)
Great Egret (Ardea alba)
A siege of white herons
A siege of white herons
Capped Heron (Pilherodius pileatus)
Capped Heron (Pilherodius pileatus)
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