Herons of India

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Herons of India:

We have so far able to photograph six types of Herons in India, The Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Pond Heron, Western reef Heron and Striated Heron.

Grey Herons are the largest among the Herons found in India and are usually a winter visitors. They grow up-to a metre tall and its wings can spread up-to 195 cm wide. They weigh around 1 kg to 2 kg.
Grey Heron
Grey Heron - Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Mandya
Grey Heron in flight
Grey Heron in flight - Karanji Lake, Mysuru
Purple Herons are also large birds but are slightly smaller in size compared to Grey Herons and larger than the Night herons & pond herons. They can grow about 70 to 94 cm tall and has a wingspan of 120 to 152 cm. They weigh only about 0.5 to 1.35 kg.
Purple Heron
Purple Heron - Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Mandya
While Grey and Purple herons are mostly found in the winter months, the night heron and pond herons are found through the year.

The Black-crowned Night Herons or simply night herons prefer to catch their prey at night, hence the name. During the day they are usually found in the bushes or resting over a tree.
Black-crowned Night Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron - Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Mandya
The juveniles have a yellow and black bill whereas the adult has a black bill. Another major difference is the white spots on the wings and back.
Juvenile night heron
Juvenile night heron - Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Mandya
Pond Herons are the most common among the Herons found in India. There are widely found across India, mostly near water bodies and wetlands.
Pond Heron
Pond Heron - Jayachamarajendra Zoological Gardens, Mysuru


Striated heron:
These are mostly found around the mangroves and coastal regions. They have short yellow legs with blue-grey on their back and wings. The underparts are whitish. They have a black cap and a dark line extends from the bill to under the eye.
They are small in size compared to other heron species found in India, measuring about 35 to 45 cm in length and weighing less than 0.25 kg. Also they have a shorter wingspan about 50 to 60 cm wide.
Striated Heron - Sewri Jetty, Mumbai
Striated Heron - Sewri Jetty, Mumbai
Western reef heron:
These are rather difficult to identify due to their  plumage morphs; a dark grey plumage in which it can only be confused with the rather uncommon dark morph of the Little Egret and an all white morph which can look very similar to the little egret.
They can be distinguishable with the Little Egret with their paler and larger bill and foraging behaviour is observed to be more aggressive. They are mainly distributed in the coastal regions.

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