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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 ?
I love those herons,'' he said as he watched one of the first arrivals perch proudly on a distant bough as its mate soared off to feed in the lagoon.
I captured this picture of a great blue heron that stalked and caught a chipmunk in my backyard.
For herons in general, prey capture success varies widely and ranged, for example, from 13% in Great Egrets (Ardea alba) to 61% in Little Blue Herons (Egretta caerulea) in Florida (Rodgers 1983); and from 24% in Great Egrets to 88% in Pied Herons (Ardea picata) in Australia (Recher and others 1983).
Earlier this year, Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul had said other Herons would join the Turkish army by the end of April.
For information on how to guard against greedy herons phone the RSPB on 01484 861148.
Taylor suddenly shouted, drawing us away from the eagle in time to spot the heron take wing, followed by the osprey plummeting into the lake and emerging with a struggling fish.
Earlier this year, Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul said other Herons would join the Turkish army by the end of April.
Tim Melling, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said this time of year was the prime time for nesting herons.
He added: "Garden ponds are prime sites for herons to get themselves a bite to eat.
Herons are regal-looking birds, proudly standing tall and looking over their domains.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is replacing its manned Sea Scan maritime patrol aircrafts, with Israel Aerospace Industries' (IAI) maritime version of the Heron 1 (Shoval) unmanned air vehicle systems set to take over in this role.
Many species of herons have been observed to engage in interspecific and intraspecific kleptoparasitism (Kushlan, 1978; Collins, 2006), but this appears to be the first report of interspecific kleptoparasitism by a swimming ardeid.