Purple heron (Ardea purpurea)
Despite its English common name, the purple heron actually has a chestnut-red head and neck with striking vertical black stripes, grey shoulders and outer-wings, and a rich chestnut stomach and inner-wings. The Spanish name for the purple heron is garza imperial, which translates as the ‘imperial heron’, perhaps a more suitable name for this vibrant-looking species. Its regal appearance is emphasized by the elongated golden-ochre beak, proportionally larger than most species of its genus. Its kinked, snake-like neck is coiled into an S-shape when in flight, and with longer toes than other similar species, the purple heron can wade over floating vegetation with ease. Although both sexes are similar in appearance, the female is lighter than the male. The juvenile heron is duller, with a beige and brown chest, and it lacks the neck stripes and the extended plumage of the adult.