Gray heron: where it lives, what it eats, towards and reproduction

Gray heron: where it lives, what it eats, towards and reproduction

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Gray heron: feeding (what it eats), where it lives (habitat and where to find it), reproduction, images and verse.

Common name:Gray heron
Scientific name: Ardea cinerea

It belongs to the familyArdaidae and it is a water bird that lives in wetlands. There are several subspecies and the one that can be observed in Europe and Italy is the Ardea cinerea cinerea.

Gray heron

Amongherons, is the species that goes further north, so much so that in summer it can also be found along the Norwegian coasts, beyond the Arctic circle.

This bird presentssizeremarkable, even larger than the white heron. It has a body length ranging from 84 to 105 cm, a height of 90 to 100 cm. The wingspan can reach 195 cm and the weight ranges from 1000 to 2000 gr.

It has a plumage with a main color gray (in the upper parts) and white (in the lower areas). Adults have a white head and upper neck with black surface stripes. Only the adult has black feathers on the neck and a very evident black nuchal tuft that starts from the back and top of the eye and ends at the back of the neck. Legs and beak are yellow even if in some subspecies the legs are dark. The beak is straight and pointed, in young specimens it is more pink.

Gray heron in flight

In the photo above you can see an adult of gray heron in flight. Like allherons, also theflight of the gray heronit is characterized by the S shape of the neck: this genus flies with the neck retracted. As for the white heron, no sexual dimorphisms are evident, although generally themale gray heronit is larger than the female.

Gray heron: verso

L'gray heronemits a great variety of sounds, especially in the reproductive period and in case of threat. The typical verse is a very rude "fraaank". Males, during the mating period, emit different types of calls to encourage union with the female. In case of threat, the males emit a very acute cry (schaah) to defend the nest or the territory. The gray heron also expresses a softer verse (gogogo) if a human approaches or senses the presence of a predator.

Gray heron: what it eats

L'supplyit is mainly based on fish, amphibians, insects and small mammals. He also eats crustaceans, water snakes and molluscs. Fish and hunt in shallow water by trapping prey in its long, sharp beak.

What does it eat? If the list is the one indicated above, it has also been observed feeding on small birds such as ducklings ... and occasionally also birds of medium-large size already injured or in distress.

Like thegreat white heron, me too'gray heronit freezes waiting for the passage of a prey and then quickly captures it with its beak. Alternatively, it moves the seabed or fishes by walking slowly in the water while keeping the body in an inclined position as in the photo below.

The moments of the day they spend eating (hunting!) Are sunrise and sunset, although if necessary they can be active at any time of the day. At night they rest in trees or in hiding places on the banks.

Gray heron nest and reproduction

Betweenimages of the gray heronthat I want to propose, one of his nest is not missing. The gray heron's nest is made of branches and sticks but inside it is covered with smaller twigs, herbs and fibers. In preparing the nest, thegray heroncan carry anything!

The nest, generally, stands on low trees, shrubs or reeds ... anest of gray heronalso on rocky ledges, near very humid areas, lake banks and various water basins.

Reproduction takes place between February and August and, when the couple arrives at the nest, they perform a sort of greeting ceremony by spreading their wings. In some areas, thecolonies of gray heronI'minterruptedby the presence ofnests of the imperial heron(also known as royal heron or Ardea purpurea).

The eggs (4 - 5 per nest) are hatched for about 23 - 25 days and the young leave the nest only after forty days (just like the white heron).

Gray heron: where it lives

We have already described yours in the paragraph on reproductionnatural habitat. If you are wonderingwhere to see it in Italy, know that it is found in many places in Italy.

To give some examples, it can be found along the rivers of the Po Valley, in the wetlands of Lombardy and Piedmont, in the Veneto region (in summer some colonies have been observed on Lake Corlo), in the water strings of the Euganean Hills Park ( Padua) ... but not only in the north.

In Central Italy it can be observed on the banks of Tuscan rivers and tributaries (Arno, Serchio, in the upper Velino valley), in Lazio it is abundant along the Tiber and is not lacking in the Marche and in some wetlands of Southern Italy. In Campania it can be observed in the Matese Regional Park.

Gray heron: threats

The gray heron is subject to various man-made threats: first of all we have "dry" cultivation techniques which involve the reclamation of constantly wet soils. This technique undermines the natural habitat of this species of heron that loves to live in shallow water or swampy areas.

Secondly, the gray heron is threatened by poaching, an illegal practice that kills the population of this species. Illegal felling of trees also poses a threat to this bird which sees fewer possible places to create its nest.

Finally, another widespread practice that threatens the gray heron is disturbance during wintering.

Other aquatic birds of the Mediterranean and our waters:

  • Moorhen
  • Cormorant
  • Kingfisher
  • Coot



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