|by Marcia Malory|
The gray heron (or grey heron) belongs to the Ardeidae family, which includes herons, bitterns and egrets.
It is a wading bird and lives in temperate areas of Europe and Asia and in West Africa and Madagascar.
When the gray heron hunts, it stands completely still in shallow water, waiting for its prey. As soon as the prey passes, the heron uses its beak to stab its victim.
The heron's neck is long and flexible, and its beak is long as well. These adaptations allow it to dart its head forward to stab its prey as quickly as possible.
The gray heron's diet consists of insects, mollusks, crustaceans, frogs, toads, fish, small mammals and reptiles, and young birds.
As it name suggests, the gray heron's feathers are mostly gray. Its head and underside are white, and its neck is pale-colored. Its beak is pinkish-yellow.
Gray herons are usually solitary, but they often come together in colonies to breed and nest.
They nest in trees that are near water. Nests are large platforms made up of sticks and branches.
Females lay four or five eggs in a clutch. Both parents incubate the eggs.