Ardea cinerea Linnaeus, 1758, Sweden. Four subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Hйron cendrй; German: Graureiher; Spanish: Garza Real.
A large gray heron (35–39 in [90–98 cm]) with white and black accents, a white crown with black plumes, black belly, and white thighs. Weight is 2.2–4.6 lb (1–2.1 kg)
Most of the Old World, including Europe, Africa, Asia, East Indies islands.
Typically found in and around shallow water, generally along watercourses and shorelines, and usually in locations having roost trees nearby. They may occur in inland fresh waters, along estuaries, or in marine habitats.
Stands or walks slowly in or around shallow water. Flies to and from roosts and nesting colonies.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Usually hunts solitarily, but may feed in loose aggregations or mixed species flocks. Eats mostly fish, but also small mammals and amphibians. Young birds often use fish farms.
Nests solitarily or in colonies. Time of nesting differs according to range. In temperate areas, breeding season is restricted to spring and summer; in the tropics nesting is more flexible, usually in the wet season. Nest is a stick platform located high in a tall tree. Clutch size is normally four to five in Europe, three in the tropics. Incubation is 25–26 days (21 in tropics); chicks fledge in 50 days.
Not threatened. A rare light-colored population nesting in coastal Mauritania deserves special conservation attention.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Hunted in the Middle Ages, and well appreciated as falconry targets. In the present day, humans most frequently encounter the birds along rivers and at fish farms, where young birds occur frequently. They are killed in these situations in great numbers.
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