Herons, Egrets, Storks

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The Herons are wading birds and there are 64 recognised species in this family. Some are called Egrets OR Bitterns instead of Herons. However, egrets are not a biologically distinct group from the herons, and tend to be named differently because they are mainly white OR have decorative plumes. Although egrets have the same build as the larger herons, but they tend to be smaller.

An Egret is any of several herons, most of which are white or buff, and several of which develop fine plumes [usually milky white] during the breeding season.

The Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long stout bills. They occur in many regions of the world and tend to live in drier habitats than the related herons, spoonbills, and ibises; they also lack the powder down that those groups use to clean off fish slime. Storks have no syrinx and are mute, giving no bird call; bill-clattering is an important mode of stork communication at the nest. Many species are migratory. Most storks eat frogs, fish, insects, earthworms, and small birds or mammals. There are 19 living species of storks.

Records

Asian Openbill Stork

Total Photos: 4

The Asian Openbill Stork is a large wading bird. It is a resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from India and Sri Lanka east to Southeast Asia.

Asian Openbill Stork is a broad-winged soaring bird, which relies on moving between thermals of hot air for sustained flight. Like all storks, it flies with its neck outstretched. It is relatively small for a stork at 68 cm length. They breed near inland wetlands and build stick nest in trees, typically laying 2-6 eggs.

Breeding adults are all white except for the black wing flight feathers, red legs and dull yellow-grey bill. The mandibles do not meet except at the tip, and this gives rise to the species' name. Non-breeding adults have the white of the plumage replaced by off-white. Young birds have brown tinge to the plumage.

The Asian Openbill Stork, like most of its relatives, walks slowly and steadily on the ground, feeding on molluscs, frogs and large insects.

Black Bittern

Total Photos: 2

The Black Bittern breeds in tropical Asia from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka east to China, Indonesia, and Australia. It is mainly resident, but some northern birds migrate short distances.

This is a fairly large species and compared to related species, it has a longish neck and long yellow bill. The adult is uniformly black above, with yellow neck sides. It is whitish below, heavily streaked with brown. The juvenile is like the adult, but dark brown rather than black.

Their breeding habitat is reed beds. They nest on platforms of reeds in shrubs, or sometimes in trees. Three to five eggs are laid. They can be difficult to see, given their skulking lifestyle and reed bed habitat, but tend to fly fairly frequently when the all black upperparts makes them unmistakable.

Black bitterns feed on insects, fish, and amphibians.

Black Stork

Total Photos: 1

The Black Stork is a large wading bird in the stork family. It is a widespread, but rare, species that breeds in the warmer parts of Europe, predominantly in central and eastern regions. This is a shy and wary species. It is seen in pairs or small flocks in marshy areas, rivers or inland waters. The Black Stork feeds on amphibians and insects.

Black Stork is a large bird, 100 cm in length and weighing around 3 kg. Like all storks, it has long legs, a long neck, and a long, straight, pointed beak. The plumage is all black with a purplish green sheen, except for the white lower breast, belly, axillaries and undertail coverts. The breast feathers are long and shaggy forming a ruff which is used in some courtship displays. The bare skin around its eyes is red, as are its red bill and legs. The sexes are identical in appearance, except that males are larger than females on average.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Total Photos: 3

The Black-crowned Night Heron is a medium-sized heron found throughout a large part of the world, except in the coldest regions and Australasia.

These are 65 cm long and weighs 800 gm. They have a black crown and back with the remainder of the body white or grey, red eyes, and short yellow legs. Young birds are brown, flecked with white and grey. These are short-necked and stout herons.

These birds stand still at the water's edge and wait to ambush prey, mainly at night or early morning. They primarily eat small fish, crustaceans, frogs, aquatic insects, small mammals and small birds. During the day they rest in trees or bushes.

Black-necked Crane

Total Photos: 0

The black-necked crane is a medium-sized crane in Asia that breeds on the Tibetan Plateau and winters mainly in remote parts of India and Bhutan. It is 55 in long with a 7.8 ft wingspan, and it weighs 5.5 kg. It is whitish-gray, with a black head, red crown patch, black upper neck and legs, and white patch to the rear of the eye. It has black primaries and secondaries. Both sexes are similar. Some populations are known to make seasonal movements. It is revered in Buddhist traditions and culturally protected across much of its range. A festival in Bhutan celebrates the bird.

Black-necked Stork

Total Photos: 1

Adults have a glossy bluish-black iridescent head, neck, secondary flight feathers and tail; a coppery-brown crown; a bright white back and belly; bill black with a slightly concave upper edge; and bright red legs. The sexes are identical but the adult female has a yellow iris while the adult male has it brown.

Cattle Egret

Total Photos: 2

The Cattle Egret is a stocky heron with a 88–96 cm wingspan; it is 46–56 centimeters in length and weighs 270–512 grams. It has a relatively short thick neck, sturdy bill, and a hunched posture. The non-breeding adult has mainly white plumage, a yellow bill and grayish-yellow legs. During the breeding season, adults of the nominate western subspecies develop orange-buff plumes on the back, breast and crown, and the bill, legs and irises become bright red for a brief period prior to pairing. The sexes are similar, but the male is marginally larger and has slightly longer breeding plumes than the female; juvenile birds lack colored plumes and have a black bill. The positioning of the egret's eyes allows for binocular vision during feeding and physiological studies suggest that the species may be capable of crepuscular or nocturnal activity. Adapted to foraging on land, they have lost the ability possessed by their wetland relatives to accurately correct for light refraction by water. This species gives a quiet, throaty "rick-rack" call at the breeding colony, but is otherwise largely silent.

Common Crane

Total Photos: 4

The common crane is a large, stately bird and a medium-sized crane. It is 50 in long with a 100 in wingspan. The body weight is 7 kg.

This species is slate-grey overall. The forehead and lores are blackish with a bare red crown and a white streak extending from behind the eyes to the upper back. The overall color is darkest on the back and rump and palest on the breast and wings. The primaries, the tips of secondaries, the alula, the tip of the tail, and the edges of upper tail coverts are all black and the greater coverts droop into explosive plumes.

Demoiselle Crane

Total Photos: 0

The demoiselle is 85–100 cm (34–39 in) long, 76 cm (30 in) tall and has a 155–180 cm (61–71 in) wingspan. It weighs 2–3 kg (4.4–6.6 lbs). It is the smallest species of crane.[3][4] The demoiselle crane is slightly smaller than the common crane but has similar plumage. It has a long white neck stripe and the black on the foreneck extends down over the chest in a plume.

It has a loud trumpeting call, higher-pitched than the common crane. Like other cranes it has a dancing display, more balletic than the common crane, with less leaping.

East African Crowned Crane

Total Photos: 1

The Grey Crowned Crane occurs in dry savannah in Africa south of the Sahara, although it nests in somewhat wetter habitats. This animal does not migrate. This species and the closely related Black Crowned Crane are the only cranes that can roost in trees, because of a long hind toe that can grasp branches. The Grey Crowned Crane has a breeding display involving dancing, bowing, and jumping. It has a booming call which involves inflation of the red gular sac. It also makes a honking sound quite different from the trumpeting of other crane species.

Great Blue Heron

Total Photos: 5

The Great Blue Heron is somewhat similar to Gray Heron but it's larger in size. It's the largest North American Heron. Head to tail measures around 140cm; wingspan is around 201cm and weight is around 4kg. The Great Blue Heron has notable Slaty Feathers, Red-Brown Thighs and black stripe up the flanks.

Food is mainly Fish but diet also contains Shripms, Crabs, Small Turtles, Small Mammals, frogs, snakes and Small Birds.

Great Egret

Total Photos: 2

The Great Egret is a large bird with all white plumage that can reach 101 cm in height and weigh up to 950 g. It is only slightly smaller than the Great Blue or Grey Herons. Apart from size, the Great Egret can be distinguished from other white egrets by its yellow bill and black legs and feet. It also has a slow flight, with its neck retracted. This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes and spoonbills, which extend their necks.

Greater Adjutant

Total Photos: 1

The greater adjutant was once found widely across southern Asia, mainly in India but extending east to Borneo. It is now restricted to a much smaller range with only two small breeding populations; one in India with the largest colony in Assam and the other in Cambodia. Populations disperse after the breeding season. This large stork has a massive wedge-shaped bill, a bare head and a distinctive neck pouch. During the day, they soar in thermals along with vultures with whom they share the habit of scavenging. They feed mainly on carrion and offal; however, they are opportunistic and will sometimes prey on vertebrates.

Green Heron

Total Photos: 2

The Green Heron is relatively small; adult body length is about 50 cm. The neck is often pulled in tight against the body. Adults have a glossy, greenish-black cap, a greenish back and wings that are grey-black grading into green or blue, a chestnut neck with a white line down the front, grey underparts and short yellow legs. The bill is dark with a long, sharp point. Female adults tend to be smaller than males, and have duller and lighter plumage, particularly in the breeding season. Juveniles are duller, with the head sides, neck and underparts streaked brown and white, tan-splotched back and wing coverts, and greenish-yellow legs and bill. Hatchlings are covered in down feathers, light grey above, and white on the belly.

Grey Heron

Total Photos: 5

The Grey Heron is similar to Purple Heron; but bigger and with light gray body. Bird has whitish S-shaped long neck and black dotted line down the neck. Bird can be seen in singles near water-bodies. Diet mainly contains Aquatic Insects, Fish, frogs, Crabs and Snakes.

Indian Pond Heron

Total Photos: 7

The Indian Pond Heron is an egret-like bird. Bird is earthy brown when at rest, but with white wings, tail and rump prominent in flight. Bird can be seen in singles or loose parties at water-bodies. Diet mainly contains Insects, fish, frogs and crabs.

Intermediate Egret

Total Photos: 0

This species, as its scientific name implies, is intermediate in size between the great egret and smaller white egrets like the little egret and cattle egret, though nearer to little than great.

It is all-white plumage, generally dark legs and a thickish yellow bill. Breeding birds may have a reddish or black bill, greenish yellow gape skin, loose filamentous plumes on their breast and back, and dull yellow or pink on their upper legs (regional variations). The sexes are similar.

The non-breeding colours are similar, but the intermediate is smaller, with neck length a little less than body length, a slightly domed head, and a shorter, thicker bill. The great egret has a noticeable kink near the middle of its neck, and the top of its longer bill nearly aligns with the flat top of its head. Close up, the bare skin of the great egret's gape line extends in a dagger shape behind the eye, while the Intermediate's is less pointed and ends below the eye. The intermediate tends to stalk upright with neck extended forward. The great is more patient, often adopting a sideways-leaning "one-eyed" stance.

Little egrets have yellow-soled feet and black bills. They often run after fish in shallow water. Breeding birds have long nuptial plumes on the back of their heads.

The intermediate egret stalks its prey methodically in shallow coastal or fresh water, including flooded fields. It eats fish, frogs, crustaceans and insects. It often nests in colonies with other herons, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. Two to five eggs are laid, the clutch size varying with region.

Jabiru Stork

Total Photos: 1

The Jabiru is a large stork found in the America. It is the tallest flying bird found in South America and Central America, often standing around the same height as the flightless and much heavier American Rhea. The adult Jabiru is typically 140 cm long, 250 cm across the wings, and weighs 8 kg. Large males may stand as tall as 5 feet. The beak, up to 30 cm long, is black and broad, slightly upturned, ending in a sharp point. The plumage is mostly white, but the head and upper neck are featherless and black, with a featherless red stretchable pouch at the base. The sexes are similar, although the female is usually smaller than the male. While it is an ungainly bird on the ground, the Jabiru is a powerful and graceful flier.

Lesser Adjutant

Total Photos: 1

The lesser adjutant is a large wading bird. Like other members of its genus, it has a bare neck and head. It is however more closely associated with wetland habitats where it is solitary and is less likely to scavenge than the related greater adjutant. It is a widespread species found from India through Southeast Asia to Java.

Little Blue Heron

Total Photos: 2

The Little Blue Heron is a small heron. It breeds from the Gulf states of the USA through Central America and the Caribbean south to Peru and Uruguay. It is a resident breeder in most of its range, but some northern breeders migrate to the southeastern USA or beyond in winter. There is post-breeding dispersal to well north of the nesting range, as far as the border between the US and Canada.

The Little Blue Heron's breeding habitat is sub-tropical swamps. It nests in colonies, often with other herons, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. 3-7 light blue eggs are laid.

This species is about 60 cm long and weighs 325 gm. It is a medium-large, long-legged, heron with a long pointed blue or greyish bill with a black tip.

Breeding adult birds have blue-grey plumage except for the head and neck, which are purplish and have long blue filamentous plumes. The legs and feet are dark blue. Sexes are similar back.

Non-breeding adults have dark blue head and neck plumage and paler legs. Young birds are all white except for dark wing tips and have yellowish legs. They gradually acquire blue plumage as they mature.

White Little Blue Herons often mingle with Snowy Egrets. The Snowy Egret tolerates their presence more than Little Blue Herons in adult plumage. These young birds actually catch more fish when in the presence of the Snowy Egret and also gain a measure of protection from predators when they mix into flocks of white herons. It is plausible that this is because of these advantages, they remain white for their first year.

The Little Blue Heron stalks its prey methodically in shallow water, often running as it does so. It eats fish, frogs crustaceans, small rodents and insects

Little Egret

Total Photos: 1

The adult Little Egret is 55-65 cm long with an 88-106 cm wingspan. It weighs 350-550 grams. Its plumage is all white. It has long black legs with yellow feet and a slim black bill. In the breeding season, the adult has two long nape plumes and gauzy plumes on the back and breast. The bare skin between the bill and eyes becomes red or blue. Juveniles are similar to non-breeding adults but have duller legs and feet. Little Egrets are mostly silent but make various croaking and bubbling calls at their breeding colonies and produce a harsh alarm call when disturbed.

Maguari Stork

Total Photos: 0

Pacific Reef Heron

Total Photos: 2

Painted Stork

Total Photos: 5

The Painted Stork is a large stork with long, heavy, yellow bill, slightly curved near tip, and featherless orange-yellow face. White barring on black upper wing coverts, pinkish bars near the tail. Seen in pairs, parties and large congregations near water-bodies. Food : Fish, frogs, crabs and snakes.

A stork has a lifespan of 20 to 30 years. These storks are colony nesters and often mix nest with pelicans. These Storks can hiss, croak, honk, squeal and whistle. Their predators include Tigers, hyenas, leopards, crocodiles and at times humans.

Purple Heron

Total Photos: 5

The Purple Heron is a wading bird in the heron family, breeding in Africa, central and southern Europe, and southern and eastern Asia. The European populations are migratory, wintering in tropical Africa; the more northerly Asian populations also migrate further south within Asia. It is a rare but regular wanderer north of its breeding range.

The Purple Heron is a large bird in length with a standing height of 95 cm and a 155 cm wingspan. However, it is slender for its size, weighing only 1.5 kg. It is somewhat smaller than the Grey Heron, from which it can be distinguished by its darker reddish-brown plumage, and, in adults, darker grey back. It has a narrower yellow bill, which is brighter in breeding adults.

Sarus Crane

Total Photos: 3

The sarus crane is a large non-migratory crane found in parts of the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia. The tallest of the flying birds, standing at a height of up to 5.9 ft, they are conspicuous and iconic species of open wetlands. The sarus crane is easily distinguished from other cranes in the region by the overall grey colour and the contrasting red head and upper neck. They forage on marshes and shallow wetlands for roots, tubers, insects, crustaceans and small vertebrate prey. Like other cranes, they form long-lasting pair-bonds and maintain territories within which they perform territorial and courtship displays that include loud trumpeting, leaps and dance-like movements.

Tricolored Heron

Total Photos: 1

The Tricolored Heron is a small heron. It is a resident breeder from the Gulf states of the USA and northern Mexico south through Central America and the Caribbean to central Brazil and Peru. There is some post-breeding dispersal to well north of the nesting range.

Tricolored Heron's breeding habitat is sub-tropical swamps. It nests in colonies, often with other herons, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. In each clutch, 3–7 eggs are typically laid.

This species is 60 cm long, with a 100 cm wingspan and weighs 350 gm. It is a medium-large, long-legged, long-necked heron with a long pointed yellowish or greyish bill with a black tip. The legs and feet are dark.

Adults have a blue-grey head, neck, back and upperwings, with a white line along the neck. The belly is white. In breeding plumage, they have long blue filamentous plumes on the head and neck, and buff ones on the back.

Tricolored Heron stalks its prey in shallow or deeper water, often running as it does so. It eats fish, crustaceans, reptiles, and insects.

Wattled Crane

Total Photos: 2

The Wattled Crane is a large bird found in Africa, south of the Sahara Desert. At a height of 6 ft, it is the largest crane in Africa and is the second tallest species of crane, after the Sarus Crane. The wingspan is 9 ft.

The back and wings are ashy gray. The feathered portion of the head is dark slate gray above the eyes and on the crown, but is otherwise white, including the wattles, which are almost fully feathered and hang down from under the upper throat. The breast, primaries, secondaries, and tail coverts are black. The secondaries are long and nearly reach the ground. The upper breast and neck are white all the way to the face. The skin in front of the eye extending to the base of the beak and tip of the wattles is red and bare of feathers and covered by small round wart-like bumps. Wattled Cranes have long bills and black legs and toes. Males and females are virtually indistinguishable, although males tend to be slightly larger. Juveniles have tawny body plumage, lack the bare skin on the face, and have less prominent wattles.

Western Reef Heron

Total Photos: 4

The Western Reef Heron is a medium-sized heron. It occurs mainly on the coasts in tropical west Africa, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and east to India. The Western Reef Heron's breeding habitat is coastal wetlands. They nest in colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. The normal clutch is two or three eggs. These birds stalk their prey in shallow water, often running or shuffling their feet; they may also stand still and wait to ambush prey.

Wood Stork

Total Photos: 1

The Wood Stork is a large American wading bird. The adult is a large bird which stands 45 in tall and spans 72 in across the wings. It appears all white on the ground, with blackish-gray legs and pink feet. In flight, the trailing edge of the wings is black. The head is dark brown with a bald, black face, and the thick downcurved bill is dusky yellow. Juvenile birds are a duller version of the adult, generally browner on the neck, and with a paler bill. The bare head and the long bill render the Wood Stork distinctive from other large waders in its range

Woolly-necked Stork

Total Photos: 5

The Woolly-necked Stork is a broad winged soaring bird, which relies on moving between thermals of hot air for sustained long distance flight. Like all storks, it flies with its neck outstretched. It is all black except for the woolly white neck and white lower belly. The upperparts are glossed dark green, and the breast and belly have a purple hue. Juvenile birds are duller versions of the adult. The Woolly-necked Stork walks slowly and steadily on the ground seeking its prey, which like that of most of its relatives, consists of frogs, lizards and large insects. African birds are attracted to bush fires.

Yellow Bittern

Total Photos: 1

The yellow bittern is a small bittern, breeding in much of the Indian Subcontinent, east to Japan and Indonesia. It is mainly resident, but some northern birds migrate short distances.

This is a small species at 15 in in length, with a short neck and longish bill. The male is uniformly dull yellow above and buff below. The head and neck are chestnut, with a black crown.

The female's crown, neck and breast are streaked brown, and the juvenile is like the female but heavily streaked brown below, and mottled with buff above.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Total Photos: 3

The Yellow-crowned Night Heron is a fairly small heron, similar in appearance to the Black-crowned Night Heron. It is found throughout a large part of the Americas, especially in warmer coastal regions.

These are about 65 cm long and weighs 625 gms. They have a white crown and back with the remainder of the body grayish, red eyes and short yellow legs. They have a white stripe below the eye. Juveniles resemble young Black-crowned Night-Herons, being mainly brown flecked with white or gray.

These birds stalk their prey or wait in ambush at the water's edge, mainly at night. They mainly eat crustaceans, mollusks, frogs, aquatic insects and small fish.

Their breeding habitat is swamps and marshes from the eastern United States to north-eastern South America. They often nest in colonies, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. They lay 3–5 pale blue-green eggs.