I have updated my image collection with a Heron section.
Herons are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds in the family Ardeidae, with 64 recognized species (some are called “egrets” or “bitterns” instead of “heron”).
[sell_media_item id=”1092″ text=”Purchase” style=”button” size=”medium”]
Herons are medium to large sized birds with long legs and necks. They exhibit very little sexual dimorphism in size. The smallest species is usually considered the little bittern, which can measure under 30 cm in length. The largest species of heron is the Goliath heron, which stand up to 152 cm tall. The necks are able to kink in an S-shape, due to the modified shape of the sixth vertebrae. The neck is able to retract and extend, and is retracted during flight, unlike most other long-necked birds. The neck is longer in the day herons than the night herons and bitterns. The legs are long and strong and in almost every species are unfeathered from the lower part of the tibia. In flight the legs and feet are held backward. The feet of herons have long thin toes, with three forward pointing ones and one going backward.
[sell_media_item id=”1044″ text=”Purchase” style=”button” size=”medium”]
The bill is generally long and harpoon like. It can vary from extremely fine, as in the agami heron, to thick as in the grey heron. The most atypical bill is owned by the boat-billed heron, which has a broad thick bill. The bill, as well as other bare parts of the body, is usually yellow, black or brown coloured, although this colour can vary during the breeding season. The wings are broad and long, exhibiting 10–11 primaries feathers (the boat-billed heron has only nine), 15–20 secondaries and 12 rectrices (10 in the bitterns). The feathers of the herons are soft and the plumage is usually blue, black, brown, grey or white, and can often be strikingly complex. Amongst the day herons there is little sexual dimorphism in plumage. Many species also have different colour morphs, the Pacific reef heron have both dark and light colour morphs, and the percentage of each morph varies geographically (white morphs only occur in areas with coral beaches).
Herons are a widespread family and exist on all continents except Antarctica. They are present in most habitats except the coldest extremes of the Arctic, extremely high mountains and the driest deserts. Almost all species are associated with water, they are essentially non-swimming waterbirds that feed on the margins of lakes, rivers, swamps, ponds and the sea. They are predominantly found in lowland areas, although some species live in alpine areas, and the majority of species occur in the tropics.
[sell_media_item id=”1087″ text=”Purchase” style=”button” size=”medium”]
Herons and bitterns are carnivorous, there diet includes a wide variety of aquatic animals, including fish, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic insects. Individual species may be generalists or specialise in certain prey types, like the yellow-crowned night heron, which specialises in crustaceans, particularly crabs. Many species will also opportunistically take larger prey, including birds and bird eggs, rodents, and more rarely carrion.
The most common hunting technique is for the bird to sit motionless on the edge of or standing in shallow water and wait until prey comes within range. Birds may either do this from an upright posture, giving them a wider field of view for seeing prey, or from a crouched position, which is more cryptic and means the bill is closer to the prey. When they have spotted a prey the head is moved from side to side, so that the heron can calculate the position of the prey in the water and compensate for refraction, then the bill is used to spear the prey.
[sell_media_item id=”1082″ text=”Purchase” style=”button” size=”medium”]
In addition to sitting and waiting, herons may feed more actively. They may walk slowly snatching prey when it is observed. Other active feeding behaviours include foot stirring and probing, where the feet are used to flush out hidden prey. The wings may be used to frighten prey (or possibly attract it to shade) or to reduce glare; the most extreme example of this is exhibited by the black heron, which forms a full canopy with its wings over its body. Some species of heron, such as the little egret and grey heron, have been documented using bait in order to lure prey to within striking distance.
Three species, the black-headed heron, whistling heron and especially the cattle egret are less tied to watery environments and may feed far away from water. Cattle egrets improve their foraging success by following large grazing animals, catching insects flushed by their movement. One study found that the success rate of prey capture increased 3.6 times over solitary foraging.
[sell_media_item id=”1059″ text=”Purchase” style=”button” size=”medium”]
Textual source: Wikipedia
The Heron collection can be found here and has the following sections:
I hope to photograph more species in the future, which then will be added to the heron collection.