- ORDER: Pelecaniformes
- FAMILY: Ardeidae
With its long legs and elegant neck the Gray Heron strikes a regal pose as it stands motionless in shallow water, waiting to strike at unsuspecting fish. During the breeding season, these large herons join treetop breeding colonies where they showcase their exquisite breeding plumes in courtship displays and work tirelessly to feed a nest full of chattering, insatiable chicks. Gray Heron, found in Europe, Asia, and Africa, is one of three very similar herons worldwide, together with Great Blue Heron of North America and Cocoi Heron of South America.More ID Info
- Garza Real (Spanish)
- Héron cendré (French)
- Cool Facts
- Raising a nest full of baby herons is hard work! During the breeding season, some Gray Herons spend up to 23 hours per day foraging and some travel up to 38 km (24 miles) from their nest in search of food.
- Gray Herons usually feed on smaller fish, 10–25 cm (4–10 inches) long, but some ambitious individuals take fish weighing up to 500 grams (1.1 pounds) and eels that are up to 60 cm (24 inches) long.
- Gray Herons live in Eurasia and Africa, but rare individuals stray from their normal range to places like the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. Despite the Gray Heron's similarity to Great Blue Heron, some observers have also documented this species from the Atlantic Coast of mainland North America, from Newfoundland to Virginia, and also from Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.