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Ardea cinerea

Ardea cinerea

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Aves
Subclassis: Carinatae
Infraclassis: Neornithes
Parvclassis: Neognathae
Ordo: Ciconiiformes
Familia: Ardeidae
Subfamilia: Ardeinae
Genus: Ardea
Species: Ardea cinerea
Subspecies: A. c. cinerea - A. c. firasa - A. c. jouyi - A. c. monicae

Ardea cinerea


Ardea cinerea Linnaeus, 1758


* Systema Naturae ed.10 p.143

Vernacular names
Català: Bernat pescaire
Česky: Volavka popelavá
Ελληνικά: Σταχτοτσικνιάς
English: Grey Heron
Magyar: Szürke gém
日本語: アオサギ (青鷺, 蒼鷺)
Nederlands: Blauwe reiger


The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, native throughout temperate Europe and Asia and also parts of Africa. It is resident in the milder south and west, but many birds retreat in winter from the ice in colder regions. It has become common in summer even inside the Arctic circle along the Norwegian coast.

It is a large bird, standing 90-100 cm tall, with a 175-195 cm wingspan and a weight of 1-2 kg. Its plumage is largely grey above, and off-white below. Adults have a white head with a broad black supercilium and slender crest, while immatures have a dull grey head. It has a powerful, pinkish-yellow bill, which is brighter in breeding adults. It has a slow flight, with its long neck retracted (S-shaped). This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes and spoonbills, which extend their necks. The call is a loud croaking "fraaank". The Australian White-faced Heron is often incorrectly called Grey Heron.


There are four subspecies:

* Ardea cinerea cinerea Linnaeus, 1758. Europe, Africa, western Asia
* Ardea cinerea jouyi Clark, 1907. Eastern Asia
* Ardea cinerea firasa Hartert, 1917. Madagascar
* Ardea cinerea monicae Jouanin & Roux, 1963. Islands off Banc d'Arguin, Mauritania.

It is closely related and similar to the American Great Blue Heron, which differs in slightly larger size, and chestnut-brown flanks and thighs.


Food and feeding

It feeds in shallow water, catching fish, frogs, and insects with its long bill. Herons will also take small mammals, reptiles and occasionally warbler nestlings, plovers, young and adult snipes, takes ducklings and tern chicks and other small birds. [2] It will often wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim.

In the Netherlands, the Grey Heron has become a very common species in recent decades by moving into urban environments in great numbers. There, the herons hunt as they usually would but also make use of food discarded by humans, will visit feeding times in zoos to birds such as penguins and pelicans and some individuals even make use of people feeding them at their homes.[3]


This species breeds in colonies in trees close to lakes, the seashore or other wetlands, although it will also nest in reedbeds. It builds a bulky stick nest.


1. ^ BirdLife International (2008). Ardea cinerea. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 9 February 2009. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern.
2. ^ Pistorius, P.A. (2008) "Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) predation on the Aldabra White-throated Rail (Dryolimnas cuvieri aldabranus)" Wilson Journal of Ornithology 120 (3):631-632
3. ^ All this behaviour can be seen in the Dutch documentary Schoffies (Hoodlums).

* Handbook of the Birds of the World 1: 405. Lynx Edicions.

External links

* BirdLife Species Factsheet
* Grey Heron videos, photos & sounds on the Internet Bird Collection
* Photographs of breeding Grey Herons in the Black Forest, Germany
* Call of the Grey Heron (Real Audio soundfile from Sveriges Radio P2)
* Ageing and sexing (PDF) by Javier Blasco-Zumeta
* Grey Heron photos Grey Heron pictures and voice
* Grey Heron catches, kills and eats a baby rabbit (Mail Online)

List of Cyprus birds

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Source: Wikispecies:, Wikipedia All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License