- 90-98cm, of which body 40-45cm.
- Adult: . Head white, with black lines
from over eye to rear crown
extending into trailing plumes on either side, nape and hindneck pale grey, chin and
throat white, neck pale grey, with double line of black streaks. Upperparts
elongated and grey-white in breeding season, shoulder patch black, tail
black-tipped grey flanks grey, chest loose grey
feathers, underparts white, . Wing coverts blue-grey, flight
feathers blackblack with flight feathers having inner webs
paler grey and secondaries
finely tipped white. Legs brown, becoming yellow when paired Eyes
yellow. Bill yellow
- Juvenile: Head pale grey, forehead,
and streak over eye dark grey/black, nape
dull black, throat white, neck grey, with interrupted
stripe of black feathers mixed with buff Upperparts and flanks
grey. Breast and underparts
white. Eye yellow, bill brown-yellow, leg
brownish-yellow or dark grey, yellow-green tinge at hock joint and on tibia.
- Nestling: upperparts brown-grey, underparts
white. Eye yellow, bill grey, legs
|Range and Habitat
- Ardea cinerea cinerea Eurasia, from British
Isles north into Norway, Sweden and Finland, east to Sakhalin, Manchuria, India, Sri
Lanka, and south to north-west Africa and Comoro Islands. Also southwestern Mauritania,
Ghana, southern Nigeria, eastern and southern Africa from Angola, Zambia, Tamzania, Kenya
and Ethiopia, southward to South Africa, and Aldabra Islands.
- Ardea cinerea monicae islands off Banc
- Ardea cinerea jouyi Japan, China, Indochina to
North Burma, Malaya, Sumatra, Java.
- Ardea cinerea firasa Madagascar.
- Accidental to Spitsbergen, Greenland, Brazil, Lesser Antilles, Azores.
In the London Area, a
common resident breeding species, with more than 400 nests in 2000,
including more than 20 nests at each of Battersea Park and Regents Park in
the Inner London
Movements: Extreme northern populations migratory;
tendency in northern and eastern populations. Further south may be dispersive or sedentary.
British population sedentary.
Habitat: Mainly lowlands (upto 500m), but locally to
1000m and exceptionally higher. Found in areas with suitable trees. Shallow, fresh flowing
or standing waters prefered - broad rivers, streams (not too rapid), deltas, estuaries,
lakes, pools, floodlands, marshes, sandy or muddy shores, reservores, ponds, ditches,
canals, ricefields, mangroves etc. Also grasslands, prefering open areas.
(B1.w2, B2, B19)
- Food: mainly fish, amphibians, small mammals, insects,
reptiles. occasionally crustaceans, molluscs, worms, birds, vegetation.
- Feeding behaviour: Usually solitary for feeding, but
congregate if food sources restricted, or if temporary abundance. Mainly feed in daytime,
particularly morning and evening. Usually wade or stand while feeding, grab or stab prey.
- Breeding: Palearctic
January to May, including Britain normally start early March, peak end
March, last eggs end April, repeat laying to June. More variation in tropical areas.
- Breeding behaviour: Seasonal monogamous
pair bond. Nests in trees, upto 25m high, occasionally on cliff ledges or lake islets, and
in eastern Europe uses reedbeds or other rough vegetation on the ground for nesting, also
on marine islands and atolls. Nest colonially, usually one to three nests per tree, often
upto ten, occasionally upto 25. Male mainly carries material, female builds nest of sticks
and twigs (male mainly carries material, female builds), usually substantial (made from
reeds if in reed beds); nests on open ground/shingle may be shallow scrape with few stones
around. Clutch range 1-10 (Mean 4-5) (B2).
Normally single brood,
although rarely second clutch; replacement clutches (upto three) if eggs or young lost.
Usually lay every second day, incubation by both parents starts after first egg laid,
Both parents tend and feed, with brooding
for first eighteen days. Food regurgitated on floor of nest. Fledge about 50 days, but
return to nest further 10-20 days, then independant. May breed at one year, more often at
two years old.
- Social Behaviour: Solitary or loose groups when feeding,
colonies formed for breeding.
Organisations (UK Contacts):
Electronic Library (further reading):