Birds of the World

Ardeidae : Herons, Egrets & Bitterns

Grey Heron

Ardea cinerea

Nottinghamshire, England - April 2017

Grey Heron is a widespread and familiar bird in most of Europe and also throughout Africa and Asia, although it is uncommon in most areas there. It was formerly heavily persecuted in Europe but its numbers have increased considerably in the last century.

Nottinghamshire, England - December 2009


Nottinghamshire, England - March 2012


Nottinghamshire, England - April 2010

They nest colonially in trees, especially those which are situated on small islands.  In northern Europe egg laying starts in early February and reaches a peak at the end of March. The usual clutch size is 3-5 and incubation lasts 25-26 days.  The young hatch asynchronously with the oldest and strongest having the greatest chance of survival.  When food is plentiful the parent birds are capable of raising all their chicks but if there is a shortage the older chicks take the lion's share and the younger chicks which are not able to compete as vigorously either die of starvation or are ejected from the nest by their siblings..


Nottinghamshire, England - April 2010


Nottinghamshire, England - April 2010

The chick in the photo below is vigorously defending its nest from a maurauding sub-adult who was attempting to steal a stick for use in its own nest...


Nottinghamshire, England - April 2010

Shortly afterwards, one of the parent birds returned and immediately chased the would-be thief away.


Nottinghamshire, England - April 2010


Nottinghamshire, England - April 2010

Juvenile playing with a branch from its nest - Nottinghamshire, England - April 2010


Derbyshire, England - January 2010

West Glamorgan, Wales - November 2002


Immature - The Gambia - January 2003

sub-adult - Nottinghamshire, England - April 2010