The grey heron has great patience, grace and agility. These characteristics are needed in its everyday life—from breeding to feeding.
The grey heron possesses a variety of unique traits. For accuracy while hunting, the bird has low-set eyes, which give it great vision and the ability to look forward. The grey heron never molts, rather, its old feathers turn to powder. It rubs this powder on itself to provide a waterproof coating. With big feet and long toes, the grey heron has excellent balance when on mud and in trees. It also uses its middle toe for
or cleaning its feathers. The grey heron's bill which it uses to hold onto rebelling prey has similarities to a dagger.
The grey heron resides in a variety of places including Britain, southern Scandinavia, Russia, Japan, south India, and north Africa. In these places, the birds usually nest in noisy groups called
. Their breeding season varies by location; in the north, it is from January to March, while in the tropics, it is year round.
The grey heron has a varied appetite. It eats fish, aquatic invertebrates, small birds, amphibians, small mammals, and snakes. When stalking food, the grey heron stays very still, waits until its prey comes, and then whiplashes it and spears it with its bill. This bird also wades through water looking for even the slightest of movements under the surface that could indicate its prey is nearby.
Typically weighing about two and a half to four pounds, the grey heron has a wingspan of three feet and eight inches to four feet and three inches. These birds usually reach sexual maturity at two years old, and they have a lifespan of approximately 25 years.
With their efficiency and agility, grey herons live serene lives around the world. I hope to see one some day!
The Encyclopedia of Animals