Ardeidae - Herons
Herons are (in the main) tall, long-legged, long-billed wading birds. They can be found in wetlands throughout the world, searching for fish, crabs and occasionally, frogs, small mammals and even young birds. They are aided in this by the arrangement of the vertebrae in their neck (they have the same number as other birds), which are constructed to form a hinge with which they can spear a fish with astonishing rapidity. They can be split into three groups. The herons, which are usually colonial, nest in the tops of trees; the Heronries Survey run by the BTO is the longest running single species survey in the world, having started in 1928. The egrets, are similar, but with an all white plumage and elongated head plumes; these were once the source of a thriving trade in feathers and prompted the formation of many bird protection societies in Europe and the Americas. Finally, the bitterns are solitary, secretive creatures of reedbeds, where their cryptic brown plumage camouflages them well, making them extremely hard to see.
There are three species found commonly in Britain, the familiar Grey Heron found in lakes and rivers throughout the country; the Little Egret which has recently colonised southern Britain, and the scarce Bittern found in a few reedbed reserves. In some places, free-flying Night Herons which have escaped from collections may be encountered.
Regularly Occurring Species
Migration blog – Winter
As we get ever closer to the end of autumn the pace of migration steadily slows, and as the daylight hours shorten so does the variety of birds on the move.
Making the most of BirdTrack data
We have been working to produce useful summaries for bird reports using data from the millions of annual BirdTrack records.
BTO Conference 2021: Session 5 The Witherby Lecture - Coevolution as an engine of biodiversity: insights from African birds
The talk will be held online using Zoom. Ever since Darwin’s wonderful image of a tangled bank of life, we’ve known that interactions between different species are a powerful force in evolution. This talk will use...