Characteristics of the grey heron and its strange elegance

In this article we will be discussing the characteristics of the grey heron and its strange elegance, as well as its preservation and adaptation to humanized habitat.

The grey heron is a large bird found throughout central Europe. It is ninety centimeters long and has a wingspan of up to one hundred and seventy centimeters, weighing about two kilograms. It has a long neck and legs, as well as a dagger-shaped beak.

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It is a very elegant bird, especially in flight. They can be distinguished in their flight, since they retract their neck, this is not done by cranes or storks, they reach about three feet in height, once they are fully mature.

It has a beautiful composition of colors interspersed in its plumage, ranging from white to black, reaching various shades of gray, with more marked contrasts in adults. Generally, they carry their necks folded, when they fly and also on the ground, hence their great elegance.

It is a partially migratory bird, migrating from Scandinavian countries to North Africa.

Characteristics of the grey heron

Scientific name: Ardea cinerea.

Common name: Grey heron. English: Grey Heron

Order: Ciconiformes. Family: Ardeidae.


Weight: Between 1.5 and 2 kg.

Length: 0.91 m.

Habitat: Salty, fresh or brackish waters of tall tree forests.

Distribution: Europe, Africa and Asia.

Its composition

Next we will see the characteristics of the heron’s beak: It is relatively long, sharp and pointed. In the subspecies of the Americas the predominant color of the bill is yellow; the tip may be darker. During the breeding season this yellow color may change to an orange or reddish hue.

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We can observe that the areas between the beak and the eyes are very pale, taking on a yellowish almost green color. During the breeding season they change to an emerald green color.

Next we will identify the legs of the grey heron. Generally they are long, in some species they are dark with a different amount of yellow.

In the subspecies of East Asia and Australia they are dark with varying amounts of yellow except during the mating season when they turn reddish.

Among the characteristics of the grey heron we can find a very particular one, like many other birds it emits a sound demonstrating its aggressiveness, it is very similar to a growl that some describe as a squawk.


This beautiful white bird with long legs and an S-shaped neck is scattered throughout the Americas and in some regions of the world. It is the largest heron of its species, except for the white-bodied ash heron.

Generally this bird can live in warm climates. They are found in tropical areas almost everywhere in the world. They can be found living in the tropical rainforests of South America. They are migratory birds that live around fresh water, salt water, and wetlands.

Characteristics of the grey heron and its strange elegance


Almost always during mating they emit loud cries to try to find a mate. Males tend to make more noises than females, since they will also be warning other males in the area, as well as trying to attract females. They can become aggressive when looking for a mate, or when it is their turn to protect their eggs and chicks.


We can say that the grey heron includes in its diet fish, frogs and small reptiles, as well as small mammals. They use their bill as a spear to catch their prey. It complements its diet with small birds, worms, crustaceans, mollusks and insects.

The grey heron fishes during daylight hours, returning to the nest at dusk to sleep until dawn. Although if there is a clear night, we may be able to see some in the moonlight.

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White herons almost always nest in trees near water. They are monogamous animals and both parents incubate three to four eggs.


When it is time to mate, the grey heron nests in trees and creates colonies. Once a pair has mated, it may be several weeks before the chick arrives. Females may deposit up to four eggs in their nest.

It is important to know that both parents will take care of the chicks in their nests, and there may be fights between them. In any house the weaker ones will be pushed out of the nest and die. It is a way to ensure that the healthiest and the strongest will be able to survive.

It is almost always seen solitary or in considerable groups. It is possible to see it fishing near other waterfowl. Likes to roost in congregations.

Once the heron has stabilized its flight, it begins to flap its wings slowly. Keeping the neck curved back, the head and bill protrude from the body. Likewise, the legs are extended backwards, which extend beyond the tail. Its average life span is approximately fifteen years.

Preservation of the grey heron

Recently, several studies have been carried out on the problem of conserving this bird species. Heron numbers are satisfactory at this time. Due to some conservation efforts that have given the opportunity to increase its population.

Finally, as a result of conservation measures its population has been recovering. However, in parts of the southern United States their numbers have declined somewhat, due to habitat loss and wetland degradation such as drainage, grazing, increased salinity, and invasion by exotic plants.

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