Heron

/hear"on/, n.
Hero (def. 2).

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Any of about 60 species of long-legged wading birds in the same family (Ardeidae) as egrets and bitterns.

They are found worldwide but are most common in the tropics. They wade in the shallow waters of pools, marshes, and swamps, catching frogs, fishes, and other aquatic animals. They nest on rough stick platforms in bushes or trees near water. Herons commonly stand with their neck bent in an southern shape and fly with their legs trailing and their head held back. They have broad wings and a long, straight, sharp-pointed bill. They are subdivided into typical herons (including the 50-in., or 130-cm, great blue heron of North America), night herons, and tiger herons.

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bird
      any of about 60 species of long-legged wading birds of the subfamily Ardeinae of the family Ardeidae (order Ciconiiformes) and generally including several species usually called egrets (see egret). The Ardeidae also include the bitterns (bittern) (subfamily Botaurinae). Herons are widely distributed over the world but are most common in the tropics. They usually feed while wading quietly in the shallow waters of pools, marshes, and swamps, catching frogs, fishes, and other aquatic animals. They nest in rough platforms of sticks constructed in bushes or trees near water; the nests usually are grouped in colonies called heronries.

      Herons commonly stand with the neck bent in an S shape. They fly with the legs trailing loosely and the head held back against the body, instead of stretching the neck out in front as most birds do. They have broad wings, long straight sharp-pointed bills, and powder downs; the latter are areas of feathers that continually disintegrate to a fine powder which is used for preening (absorbing and removing fish oil, scum, and slime from the plumage).

 Herons are subdivided into typical herons, night herons, and tiger herons. Typical herons feed during the day. In breeding season some develop showy plumes on the back and participate in elaborate mutual-courtship posturing. Best known of the typical herons are the very large, long-legged and long-necked, plain-hued, crested members of the genus Ardea—especially the 130-cm (50-inch) great blue heron (A. herodias; see photograph—>) of North America, with a wingspan of 1.8 m (6 feet) or more, and the similar but slightly smaller gray, or common, heron (A. cinerea), widespread in the Old World. Largest of all is the goliath heron (A. goliath) of Africa, a 150-cm (59-inch) bird with a reddish head and neck. The purple heron (A. purpurea) is a darker and smaller Old World form.

      The typical herons also include several species of the genus Egretta (egrets); the little blue heron, Hydranassa (or Florida) caerulea, and the Louisiana heron (H. tricolor), of the southeastern United States and Central and South America; and the black heron, H. (or Melanophoyx) ardesiaca, of Africa.

      Night herons have thicker bills and shorter legs and are more active in the twilight hours and at night. The black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) ranges over the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia; the Nankeen night heron (N. caledonicus) in Australia, New Caledonia, and the Philippines; and the yellow-crowned night heron (Nyctanassa violacea) from the eastern and central United States to southern Brazil. Another night heron is the boat-billed heron, or boatbill (Cochlearius cochlearius), of Central and South America, placed by some authorities in its own family (Cochleariidae).

      The most primitive herons are the six species of tiger herons (formerly called tiger bitterns), shy, solitary birds with cryptic, often barred, plumage. The lined, or banded, tiger heron (Tigrisoma lineatum), 75 cm (30 in.) long, of central and northern South America is a well-known example. Another is the Mexican, or bare-throated, tiger heron (T. mexicanum) of Mexico and Central America.

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Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Heron — Héron Pour les articles homonymes, voir Héron (homonymie). Nom vernaculaire ou nom normalisé ambigu : Le terme « Héron » s applique, en français, à plusieurs taxons distincts …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Heron — ist ein altgriechischer Männername, siehe Heron (Name) – dort auch zu Namensträgern ein Einschlagskrater auf dem Mond, siehe Heron (Mondkrater) Heron ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Julia Heron (1897–1977), US amerikanische… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • heron — HERON. s. m. (L H s aspire.) Espece de grand oiseau haut sur jambe qui vit de poisson. Voler le heron. un faucon dressé pour le heron, pour heron. le vol du heron. le bec du heron. plumes de heron. masse de heron, est un amas ou bouquet de plumes …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Heron — Her on, n. [OE. heiroun, heroun, heron, hern, OF. hairon, F. h[ e]ron, OHG. heigir; cf. Icel. hegri, Dan. heire, Sw. h[ a]ger, and also G. h[ a]her jay, jackdaw, OHG. hehara, higere, woodpecker, magpie, D. reiger heron, G. reiher, AS. hr[=a]gra.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • *héron — ● héron nom masculin (franciquehaigro) Grand oiseau échassier (ardéidé), migrateur, à longues pattes et long cou, à bec pointu, se nourrissant surtout de poissons et vivant en colonies. (On trouve, en France, le bihoreau ou héron de nuit, le… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Heron — Heron, MT U.S. Census Designated Place in Montana Population (2000): 149 Housing Units (2000): 63 Land area (2000): 3.392157 sq. miles (8.785645 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 3.392157 sq. miles …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Heron, MT — U.S. Census Designated Place in Montana Population (2000): 149 Housing Units (2000): 63 Land area (2000): 3.392157 sq. miles (8.785645 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 3.392157 sq. miles (8.785645 …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • heron — c.1300, from O.Fr. hairon (12c.), earlier hairo (11c., Mod.Fr. héron), from Frankish *haigiro, from P.Gmc. *hraigran (Cf. O.H.G. heigaro heron, Ger. Reiher, Du. reiger, O.N. hegri), from PIE *qriq , perhaps imitative of its cry (Cf. O.C.S. kriku …   Etymology dictionary

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