Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - wiki
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[Photo] Grey heron wading in the UK. Date 5-27-07. Author Pschemp http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pschemp
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 regions.
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.
There are four subspecies:
Ardea cinerea cinerea Linnaeus, 1758. Europe, Africa, western Asia.
Ardea cinerea jouyi Clark, 1907. Eastern Asia.
Ardea cinerea firasa Hartert, 1917. Madagascar.
Ardea cinerea monicae Jouanin & Roux, 1963. Islands off Banc d'Arguin, Mauritania.
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.
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.
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.
The call is a loud croaking "fraaank".
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