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.
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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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Dr Khan said "seeing Grey Herons eating crabs and frogs is very common" in other countries but swallowing a dove whole is one for the record books in the UAE's natural history digest.
Grey Herons, Great White Herons and Little Egrets (most abundant species) occurred in the lake but no one showed a preference.
When to see them: At any time of year - our grey herons do not migrate.
Winter temperature also affects the onset of the breeding season in Grey Herons [16-19].
Migratory species feeding in the region during this period include geese, flamingos, storks, cormorants, grey herons and royal magpies.
Grey herons tend to build their nests early and the uncanny warm spell at the end of February will have encouraged egg laying.
For such large birds, Grey Herons and Little Egrets can be secretive when nest-building.
From the heronry boardwalk we heard the early risers, robin, song thrush and blackbird, almost drowning out everything else, except of course the grey herons.
Animal lovers can also expect to catch a glimpse of some rare and exotic wildfowl, flocks of waders, Chilean flamingos, Asian short-clawed otters, Eurasian and Japanese cranes, grey herons, woodland birds, frogs, insects and bats.
And for the first time, the team is planning to broadcast live pictures from the reserve's heronry of nesting grey herons and little egrets.
Grey herons occasionally nested in Conwy's Benarth Wood, where at least 10 pairs are now sitting.
See hundreds of rare and endangered ducks, geese and swans, plus a colourful colony of Flamingos and the largest nesting colony of Grey Herons in the North-East.