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UK Nature  > Birds  > Ardea cinerea

Scientific Name:   Ardea cinerea
Common Name:   Grey Heron

Ardea cinerea, more commonly known as the Grey Heron, is the most abundant and widespread of Europe's herons, found on food-rich lakes, rivers, most other fresh waters and on sea shores. Usually nests in large, noisy colonies in trees near water.

When hunting, stands motionless in wait for fish, which it captures with a lightning-fast bill stab. The patient watching behaviour and the stiffly held and often retracted neck are very characteristic of herons in general, but the Grey heron is easily distinguished from other European herons by its size and the grey, white and black plumage. In flight, the neck is always retracted and the bird looks positively front-heavy.

Over long distances, the Grey Heron flies at high altitudes, and can then be confused with large birds of prey, because of its slow, heavy wing action. But even at long range, the Grey Heron's particular characteristics in flight are obvious: bowed wings that beat heavily and slowly. Its normal call is a raucous 'kaark'.
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