heron

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heron

(hĕr`ən), common name for members of the family Ardeidae, large wading birds including the bittern and the egret, found in most temperate regions but most numerous in tropical and subtropical areas. Unlike the remotely related cranes and ibises, which fly with their heads extended straight forward, herons fly with their necks folded back on their shoulders. Their plumage is soft and drooping and, especially at breeding time, there may be long, showy plumes on the head, breast, and back. Herons are usually solitary feeders, patiently stalking their prey (small fish and other aquatic animals) in streams and marshes and then stabbing them with their sharp, serrated bills. Most herons roost and nest in large colonies called heronries; others are gregarious only at breeding time; and some are entirely solitary. The nests vary from a sketchy platform of twigs high in a tree to a bulky mass of weeds and rushes built on the ground among the marsh reeds. American herons include the great and little blue herons, the green heron, the yellow-crowned and the black-crowned night herons (the latter known also as night quawk, because of its cry), and the Louisiana heron, called by Audubon "the lady of the waters." The great white heron of Florida, a little larger (50 in./125 cm long) than the great blue, is a striking bird sometimes confused with the American egret. Other large white herons are common in Africa. The European night heron ranges to India and N Africa. The odd looking shoe-billed heron (or stork, a misnomer) is found along the White Nile and the boat-billed heron in tropical America. Herons are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Ciconiiformes, family Ardeidae.

heron

[′her·ən]
(vertebrate zoology)
The common name for wading birds composing the family Ardeidae characterized by long legs and neck, a long tapered bill, large wings, and soft plumage.

heron

any of various wading birds of the genera Butorides, Ardea, etc., having a long neck, slim body, and a plumage that is commonly grey or white: family Ardeidae, order Ciconiiformes

Heron

Patrick. 1920--99, British abstract painter and art critic
References in periodicals archive ?
Assessment of Grey Heron predation on fish communities: the case of the largest European colony.
The exotic birds were on holiday elsewhere, and from my family's lakeside balcony we only ever saw swans, moorhens and a few grey herons.
Among the birds seen were the spot-billed pelican, spotted greenshank, spoonbill sandpiper, black necked stork, white ibis, flamingos, painted stork Night Herons, Pond Herons, Grey Herons, White Ibis, Pintails, Shavellers, Billed Ducks, Garganeys, Common Moorhen, Purple Moorhens, Coots, Little Egrets and Cattle Egrets.
Birdlife includes flamingos, sea gulls, cormorants, wild fowl, pintails, shovelers, blackwinged stilts, teals, crab plovers, avocets and grey herons.
Other birdlife which can be spotted on the island include pintails, shovelers, blackwinged stilts, teals, crab plovers, avocets and grey herons.
The trees opposite the lake are home to the North-East's largest colony of Grey Herons, with numbers typically reaching 50 pairs.
See rare and endangered ducks, geese and swans, a colourful colony of flamingos, the largest nesting colony of grey herons in North East England, and a Splash Zone for 3 to 5-year-olds to play in - so take your wellies
Since being created two years ago, the Wetlands has become a haven for Bay wildlife, including mute swans and grey herons.
THE nesting season is fast approaching for Pwllheli's unique colony of grey herons, one of the most accessible in Britain.
Not far away grey herons, in their heronry a mere four miles from Birmingham city centre, were busy renovating their untidy nests.
Sometimes, grey herons circle high up into the sky and can be mistaken for large birds of prey.
Or people can explore the reserve's scenic mix of wetland, woodland, wildlife reserve and meadows, home to flocks of waders, Chilean flamingos, Eurasian cranes, grey herons, woodland birds, frogs, insects and bats.