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Heron Birds

WHITE –BELLIED HERON Ardea insignis R Vulture+: 127cm. Like grey heron but considerably larger. Swamps, lakes and rivers. NE.India, Bhutan, Nepal, Bihar north of ganges, Bangladesh and N. Maynmar. One December record from Tamil Nadu.

Local Names : Not recorded

Size: Grey Heron Field Characters : Like the grey heron but considerably larger. Crown slaty black. Longer, crest feathers tipped with grey. Tail and primaries slatyblack. Distribution: Resident in eastern India north of the Ganges but apparently rare. A solo identifyed at Point Calimere, Tamil Nadu, in December 1983 from among a flock of egrets and herons is the southern most record for the country. Habits: n Similar to other herones. Nesting: Not recorded in India. Breeds in Mynmar in April in massive nests on the tall trees.

LARGE EGRET Casmurodius albus RM Vulture+:91cm. Snowy white, legs black bill black and yellow. Marshes, rivers, etc. Subcontinent; Sri Lanka. Winter: n Andamans, Nicobars (?), Maldives. Straggler to Pakistan and Uttar Pradesh.

Local Names : Bada Bagla- Hindi ; Bada Bak- Bengali; Bor Bke –Assamese; Pedda pakshi-Telugu; Channarai- Tamil ; Chayamunti-Malayalam.

Size: Grey heron: Field Characters : Alanky snow white egret. Legs bare, black, bill black-and yellow, or yellow. Breeding birds develop a cluster of flimsy ornamental dorsal plumes falling over beyond the tail. Difficult to distinguish from other egrets in non-breeding plumage except the little egret which has party-coloured black and yellows feet. Distribution: Resident throughout the subcontinent : Sri Lanka, Andamans (winter).

Two races : alba(winter straggler): modesta (resident). Habits: Affects jheels, marshes, rivers etc. Usually solitary. Behaviour and feeding habits similar to grey herone’s.
Food: fish, frog etc. Nesting : Season—July to February depending on locality. Colonial, in the mixed heronries. Nest—a flimsy platform of sticks on trees in or near water or trees away from water even in the midst of noisy city streets. Eggs: 3to 4, pale green. Both sexes share domestic duties.

PURPLE HERON Ardea purpurea RM Vulture: 97cm.; standing 70cm. Bluish grey above. Appears bright purple in direct sunlight. Jheels, lakes and rivers. Subcontinent; also Andamans, Nicobars, Sri Lanka.

Local Names : n Lal anjan-Hindi ; Lal kank-Bengali; Lal kol-Assamese; Yerra narayana tella konga- Telugu; Peria vellai kokku- Tamil; Perumunti- Malayalam.

Size: Grey heron ; Field Characters : Bluish grey above with rufous head and neck; black and chestnut below. Bright purple in direct sunlight. Immature birds uniform cinnamon brown. Distribution: Resident and locally migratory throughout Indian subcontinent, Andamans and Nicobars; Sri Lanka. Numbers augmented by winter visitors. Habits: Largely crepuscular and solitary . Seen at jheels, keepsto dence cover, flies up with a harsh croak when startled. Food: Fish frogs snakes . Nesting: June to March depanding on locality . Usual;ly in exclusive colonies of its own; if in a heronery, segregated to its own species . Nest—platform of sticks in the trees, reed beds Pandanuds . Eggs –3 to 5, pale sea green or greenish blue . Both sexes share parential duties.

GREY HERON Ardea cinerea RM Vulture+: 98cm; standing 75 cm. Conspicuous black dotted line on mid foreneck , long black occipital crest. Swamps , estuaries and rocky offshore islets. Subcontinent Andamans Nicobar , Sri Lanka; Maldives.

Local Names : Nari , Kabud , Anjan, Sain-Hindi, Kyara-Bihar; Sada kank or Kank, Anjan- Bengal; Saa-Sind; Brag- Kashmir; Nazayana pachchi- Telugu; Narai, Sambal narai-Tamil; Charamunti- M,alayalam; Kalapua karwalkoka, Indura koka –Sinhala; Kudal- Koils of Maharashtra.

Size: Asian openbill stork+: Field Characters : A lanky stork like bird; ashyu grey above with white crown and neck; grayish white below, with long slender S-shaped neck, narrow head, and pointed dagger bill. Along black occipital crest and elongated white feathers on the breast with some black streaks. A conspicuous black dotted line down middle of foreneck. Female similar, but crest and pectoral plumes less developed. Solitary, at reedy jheels, rivers etc. Distribution: Throughout the Indian union up nto c. 1400 m in the Kashmir Valley; Bangladesh; Pakistan Sri Lanka ; Myanmar. Resident and migratory. An individual ringed at Amritsar in March was picked up dead the following month at Balkash lake in Russia. Habits: Somewhat crepuscular. Wades circumspectly into shallow water with neck craned and bill poised, or stand hutched up but alert waiting for a frog or fish to blunder within striking range. Files with steady wing beats, neck folded back and head drawn in between the shoulders, the long legs trailing behind. Call: Adeep harsh croak uttered in flight. Nesting: Season-- mainly July to September in N.India, November to March in the South, and in Sri Lanka. Nest-- a twing platform with the central depression lined with grass, etc. Built gregariously in trees, often amongst mixed heronries . Eggs—3 to 6, deep sea green. Both sexes share all domestic duties.

GOLIATH HERON : Ardea goliath V Vulture+: 142-152 cm. Looks like a gigantic purple heron. Lakes, swamps, estuaries and tidal creeks. Isolated records from Pakista, Madhya pradesh, Bengal Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Local Names : Not recorded.

Size: 142-145 cm. (56-60in.). Field Characters: Looks like a gigantic Purple Heron. Crown and crest deep vinous chestnut, neck rufou-cinnamon; chin; cheeks and throat white, elongate breast plumes streaked white and slaty black. Upper parts, wings and tail stay grey .Lower parts including wing lining deep chestnut or maroon. Sexes alike. Distribution: Rare vagrant. Recorded from Madhya Pradesh and Bengal; also Pakistan; Bangladesh; Sri Lanka. Essentially an African/Arabian species. Habits: Solitary frequents estuaries, swamps, inland lakes. Food: Similar to other herons. Nesting : Extralimital. Breeds on inlands off the African and Arabian coasts.