Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Grey Heron

Grey Heron
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Ciconiiformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Ardea
Species: cinerea
Binomial name
Ardea cinerea

The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, common throughout temperate Europe and Asia. It is resident in the milder south and west, but many birds retreat in winter from the ice in colder regions.

This species using breeds in colonies in trees close to lakes or other wetlands, although it will also nest in reed beds. It builds a bulky stick nest.

It feeds in shallow water, spearing fish or frogs with its long, sharp bill. Herons will also take small mammals and birds. It will often wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim.

The Grey Heron is a large bird, standing 100cm tall, and it has a 150cm wingspan. Its plumage is largely grey above, and off-white below. It has a powerful yellow bill, which is brighter in breeding adults. It has a slow flight, with its neck retracted. This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, craness and spoonbills, which extend their necks.

The call is a loud croaking "fraaank ".

This species is very similar to the American Great Blue Heron.