Heron facts

Head head holding fish
photo Ste Jones

What is a heron?
It’s the common name for members of a family of tall wading birds of the stork order.  These include bitterns, boatbills and egrets.  In addition there is the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) found in N America and the Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) found in northern Mediterranean (though there are records of some being found in Northern Shropshire) There are 60 types of herons.

The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) is the one which concerns us here at Ellesmere.  It is about 1 metre tall and weighs approximately 2kg.  They can reach speeds of 50 km/h.  The adult’s head plume (long feathers at the top of the head) measures about 10-20 cm, growing with age.

Adult herons need about 350-500g of food each day.  They eat fish, eels (favourite grub), amphibians (frogs, newts etc), mammals (voles, mice etc) and small birds.  They can sometimes be seen in fields where they feed on worms brought to the surface by rain.  They also require some roughage like grain to complete their digestion process.  Herons produce pellets which they regurgitate.  These contain the remains of the undigested materials such as fur and bones.

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