The grey Heron, with an outstretched neck, is 84-102 cm in length. It has a long neck and strong pink-yellow bill. When flying, its neck is retracted (S.shaped) And its wings are bowed. Its plumage is grey above and whitish below. Adult grey herons have a white head with ablack supercilium and black crest. The grey heron feeds on fish, eels, turtle hatchlings, Small rodents and birds, molluscs, crustaceans, insects and plant matter.It catches prey by standing patiently for it to approach before striking rapdily either catching it in its bill or spearing it. It construct a flat nest of sticks in the crown of a tree. Both parents share incubation of eggs and take care of young.The grey heron breeds solitarily or in colonies called heronries. Successive generations often use the same breeding sites.
The grey heron has a slow flight, with its long neck retracted (S-shaped). This is characteristic of herons and bittern, and distinguishes them from storks,cranes, and spoonbills, which extend their necks. It flies with slow wing-beats and sometimes glides for short distances. It sometimes soars, circling to considerable heights, but not as often as the stork. In spring, and occasionally in autumn, birds may soar high above the heronry and chase each other, undertake aerial manoeuvres or swoop down towards the ground. The birds often perch in trees, but spend much time on the ground, striding about or standing still for long periods with an upright stance, often on a single leg.
The Grey Heron usually hunts solitarily, but in situations where food is more concentrated, birds may feed in loose aggregations or even mixed species flocks. If conditions are especially favourable, quite large feeding aggregations may form, particularly after the breeding season. Herons feeding alone defend their feeding territories. Defence may be vigorous, and killing of intruders is known. Aggression varies seasonally being most intense when young are being fed. Sites may be near to the colony site or as many as 38 km away. When available feeding areas are poor and/or more distant from the colony, adults use two or three feeding areas and are no longer territorial.
Depending on prey availability and distance, herons use three types of feeding sites
It mainly eats fish, using three different hunting techniques: it can wait at one spot for prey to come within striking distance; it can walk carefully through shallow water before ambushing prey, or it just drops into the water from the air. Once it catches something, it manipulates the first to a head-first position before swallowing it.
This species breeds in colonies known as heronries, usually in high trees close to lakes, the seashore or other wetlands. Other sites are sometimes chosen, and these include low trees and bushes, bramble patches, Reed beds, heather clumps and cliff ledges. The same nest is used year after year until blown down; it starts as a small platform of sticks but expands into a bulky nest as more material is added in subsequent years. It may be lined with smaller twigs, strands of root or dead grasses, and in reed beds, it is built from dead reeds. The male usually collects the material while the female constructs the nest. Breeding activities take place between February and June. When a bird arrives at the nest, a greeting ceremony occurs in which each partner raises and lowers its wings and plumes. Courtship involves the male calling from the chosen nesting site. On the arrival of the female, both birds participate in a stretching ceremony, in which each bird extends its neck vertically before bringing it backwards and downwards with the bill remaining vertical, simultaneously flexing its legs, before returning to its normal stance. The snapping ceremony is another behaviour where the neck is extended forward, the head is lowered to the level of the feet and the mandibles are vigorously snapped together. This may be repeated twenty to forty times. When the pairing is settled, the birds may caress each other by attending to the other bird's plumage. The male may then offer the female a stick which she incorporates into the nest. At this, the male becomes excited, further preening the female and copulation takes place.
The clutch of eggs usually numbers three to five, though as few as two and as many as seven eggs have been recorded. The eggs have a matt surface and are greenish-blue, averaging 60 mm × 43 mm (2.36 in × 1.69 in). The eggs are normally laid at two-day intervals and incubation usually starts after the first or second egg has been laid. Both birds take part in incubation and the period lasts for about twenty-five days. Both parents bring food for the young. At first the chicks seize the adult's bill from the side and extract regurgitated food from it. Later the adult disgorges the food at the nest and the chicks squabble for possession. They fledge at seven to eight weeks. There is usually a single generation each year, but two broods have been recorded.
The oldest recorded bird lived for twenty-three years but the average life expectancy in the wild is about five years. Only about a third of juveniles survive into their second year, many falling victim to predation.
The IUCN red list currently classifies the grey Heron under least concern. It has suffered population decline in the past due to competition with fishermen and fish farmers. It is vulnerable to habitat loss and loss of breeding sites.
In Maldives it is illegal to catch or to pet.
Roast heron was once a specially-prized dish in Britain for special occasions such as state banquets.
Incredible tourist attracting bird.