Grey heron

Species profile

Name: the grey heron (Ardea cinerea) is a long-legged wading bird in the heron family.

Appearance: they have white heads and necks with a broad black stripe across the tops of their heads. Their bodies and wings are grey. Grey herons are elegant birds with long thin legs, necks, and beaks.

Size: they stand up to 1 metre tall and weigh up to 2 kg. Wingspans can range from 1.5 to 2.0 metres in width.

Diet: grey herons feed on aquatic creatures such as fish, insects, small mammals and amphibians. They catch their prey by standing stationary beside water bodies or stalking slowly through the water before striking with their sharp beaks.

Did you know: these beautiful birds have imprinted themselves on human culture for thousands of years. In Ancient Egypt, the deity Bennu who was associated with the sun, creation, and rebirth was depicted as a heron. While in Ancient Rome the heron was a bird of divination that portended important events. In England, roast heron used to be a specially prized dish and the Archbishop of York once served 400 herons to their guests in 1465. The English surnames Earnshaw, Hernshaw, Herne, and Heron all derive from places where herons nested.

Location: grey herons are found in lakes, rivers, ponds, marshes, and coasts throughout Europe and Asia and parts of Africa. In recent years they have increasingly been found in urban environments and are well adapted to modern city life.

Where to see grey herons

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see grey herons in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
Peckham Rye
England
27%
low
3.1
good
30
reports

Photo credit: WildSide team member Chris White

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