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Information onGreat white heron also known simply as white heron: what he eats, where he lives, images and habits of this fascinating creature.
Common name:great white heron
Scientific name: Ardea alba (other synonyms: Casmerodius albus, Egretta alba).
Great white heron
It is a bird of the Ardeidae family and is one of theherons(of the Ardea genus) most widespread and known all over the world.Where does he live? It is present on all continents except Antarctica.
Thiswater birdit has a white plumage, a slender body and can reach considerable dimensions: up to one meter in height!
It is easy to recognize both when it is stationary and when it is in flight: in flight, thewhite heronportrays the long neck which forms a characteristic curve. To fly with the neck retracted is a characteristic of allherons which, unlike storks, cranes, ibises and spoonbills (which fly with their neck extended), fly with a curved neck while when they are still or walking, they tend to keep their neck extended.
Dimensions: the length (from the beak to the tip of the tail) oscillates between 80 and 104 cm. The wingspan is between 130 and 170 cm. The weight ofwhite heronranges from 700 to 1500 grams. It is only slightly smaller thangray heron.
In the photo below, you can see the characteristic plumage of thewhite heronin the period of reproduction. The back feathers tend to stand up.
White heron: verso
Thewhite heronsthey tend to be silent birds, only when disturbed they tend to emit high pitched noises. The cry of the great white heron is rarely heard even in the period of reproduction when it becomes even more acute.
How to distinguish the great white heron from other herons?
Apart from the size, thegreat white heronit can be distinguished from othersheronsfor its yellow beak and completely black legs (only in the breeding season a portion of the legs becomes lighter).
White heron: where it lives
InItaly, L'great white heronit is seen in many wetlands. In our country it is considered a migratory species even if it would be correct to say that it is a "partially migratory" species.
It frequents humid environments, especially in the presence of dense vegetation and reeds.
Its natural habitat is given by the shores of lakes and rivers but it is not uncommon to find it also in marine areas. Occasionally it can also be observed in agricultural areas, near flooded rice fields.
Where to see it? On the Po Delta and in many other wetlands of Italy and central Europe. At one time, in Switzerland it was considered a rare species, but today it is very present especially on Lake Neuchâtel where it winters.
White heron: what it eats
L'great white heronit feeds in shallow waters, wetlands or dry lakes: it is here that it hunts fish, frogs, small mammals ... if necessary, it can also eat small birds and reptiles, trapping them with its long and strong beak.
You can observe thegreat white heronfor a long time: for its feeding, this bird typical of the wetlands assumes a peculiar behavior. L'great white heronit remains motionless for a very long time, so that it gives way to the prey to approach, so a quick movement with the beak will be enough to ensure a meal. L'white heron, to eat, he uses his beak like a harpoon.
He doesn't like hunting, at bestwalks slowly towards the prey and tries to surprise it by harpooning it with its beak. Or it moves the muddy bottom to uncover reptiles and amphibians.
The prey is first pierced and then swallowed. It does not like all types of fish, in fact it can sometimes be observed "spitting out" some unwanted prey.
White heron: reproduction
The season of love begins in mid-April in the Northern Hemisphere. Thenest of white heronit is made of branches, reeds and aquatic plants. It prefers trees that protrude over reservoirs and wetlands. The couple prepares the nest together. The female lays 4 or 5 eggs to incubate (hatch) for about 23 - 25 days. L'little heron (chick) just hatched, it is whitish with a pink beak. With development, the beak will first become orange and then yellow as in the adult specimen. The heron flies for the first time after 35 - 40 days during which it stays in the nest fed by its parents. Young peopleheronsthey will be sexually mature and ready for thereproduction and nestingwithin two years.
Other aquatic birds of the Mediterranean and our waters:
- Gray Heron