Ardea cinerea   Linnaeus,  1758 (Bird)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Aves

Image copyrights:pbase

Size: 90-98 cm; Length 90-100cm.

Color: Generally grey with head, lower neck and underparts white; black stripe over eye ending in lax black crest; streaks on neck and neck plumes black; black shoulder patch; primaries and secondaries black above, grey below. Immature paler grey without black eye-stripe and shoulder. Bare parts: iris yellow; facial skin: lores yellow; bill yellow, vermillion in breeding birds; feet and legs brown in front, yellow behind, red at start of breeding season.

Voice: Loud frarnk while in flight.

Habits: Diurnal, generally solitary, though roosts communally in winter, breeds in colonies almost throughout the year, generally nests among reeds.

Adult: Sexes alike, but female smaller with less developed occipital crest and pectoral plumes. A long-legged and long-necked ashy-grey bird with yellow bill, long black occipital crest, white crown and neck, black dotted line down middle of foreneck, elongated black-streaked white feathers on breast, underparts greyish-white, ashy-grey above, dark central feathers with black tips, primaries, outer secondaries, primary coverts and bastard wing almost black, tail grey. Juvenile: Browner and darker grey with foreneck more conspicuously black-streaked and without lengthened scapulars and breast plumes.

Nesting: Season- mainly July to September in N. India; November to March in the south and in Ceylon. Nest- a twig 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.

Synonym (s)

Common Name (s)
• Grey Heron (English)
• Nari (Hindi)
• Kabud (Hindi)
• Anjan (Hindi)
• Charamunti (Malayalam)
• Narayana pakshi (Telugu)
• Sambal naarai (Tamil)
• Kudal (Kolis), Rakhi bagla (Marathi)
• Kabut, Kabooth bagala (Gujrati)
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Commercial
(The species is hunted and traded at traditional medicine markets.)
Threats:  Natural threats
(The species is also susceptible to avian influenzaand avian botulism so may be threatened by future outbreaks of these diseases.)
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(Timber harvesting is a threat throughout much of the species range by removing trees used by nesting colonies and/or disturbing nearby colonies.The species is vulnerable in Madagascar owing to its restricted range, exceedingly high levels of habitat alteration (from siltation and the need for agricultural land for rice and grazing) )
Importance:  Ecosystem balance
(Grey herons are important in limiting fish populations in estuaries, rivers, and other bodies of water. Their nests also provide shelter for rodents and insects.)
Importance:  Dangers
(Grey herons can have negative effects and potentially cause dramatic losses from fish farms, preying upon readily available fish and potentially spreading diseases through the farm. Grey herons can encourage the spread of common fish viruses and infectious diseases, such as pancreatic necrosis (IPN), viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS), and spring viraemia of carp (SVC). Herons spread these diseases through regurgitated foods and excreted wastes.)

Habitat:  Reef Associated, Estuarine, Rocky, Sandy, Muddy, Coastal
Trophic Level:  Consumer
Prey:  fish and eels 10-25 cm long, as well as amphibians, crabs, molluscs, crustaceans, aquatic insects, snakes, small rodents, small birds
Predator:  crows (Corvus) carrion crows (Corvus corone) foxes (Family Canidae)
IUCN Status:  Least Concern


• Goa, Terekhol Estuary INDIA (Record: 30/01/1995)
• Goa, Chorao INDIA
• Goa, Divar INDIA
• Goa, Neura INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA
• Kerala, Kol wetlands (Lat: 10.33) (Long: 75.96) INDIA
• Kerala, Kol wetlands (Lat: 10.66) (Long: 76.18) INDIA
• Kerala, Vembanad Lake (Lat: 9.66) (Long: 76.55) INDIA
• Kerala, Vembanad Lake (Lat: 9.28) (Long: 76.31) INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Pulicat Lake INDIA
• Orissa, Dhamra Port INDIA
• Haryana, Kurukshetra INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Pallikaranai Wetlands INDIA
• Andhra Pradesh, Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Point Calimere (Lat: 10.3) (Long: 79.85) INDIA
• Goa, Carambolim INDIA
• Kerela, Kuttanad wetlands INDIA
• Karnataka, Anekere wetland INDIA
• Delhi, Okhla barrage bird sanctuary INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • Myers, P; Espinosa, R; Parr, CS; Jones, T; Hammond, GS and Dewey, TA (2006) Animal diversity web Available at -
  • (2003) IUCN Red list of threatened species Available at -
  • Kumar, A; Sati, JP; Tak, PC and Alfred, JRB (2005) Handbook on Indian wetland birds and their conservation Zoological Survey of India, Dehra Dun 468 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Lainer, H (2004) Birds of Goa : A reference book The Goa Foundation, Goa 244 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Ali, S (1977) The book of Indian birds Bombay Natural History Society 175 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Worldwide Wildlife and Environment Available at -
  • Marine Biological Station, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (2003) Checklist of marine fauna of Tamil Nadu Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Available at -
  • Dr. Ramesh, R; Dr. Nammalwar, P and Dr. Gowri, VS (2008) Database on coastal information of Tamil Nadu Report Submitted to Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Available at -
  • Untawale, AG; Dwivedi, SN and Singbal, SYS (1973) Ecology of mangroves in Mandovi & Zuari estuaries & the interconnecting Cumbarjua canal of Goa Indian Journal of Marine Sciences NISCAIR 2 47-53 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Nagarjuna, A; Kumar,NVN; Kalarani, V and Reddy, DC (2010) Aquatic and avian biodiversity of Pulicat brackish water lake and ecological degradation World Journal of Fish and Marine Sciences IDOSI Publications 2 (2) 118-123 Available at -
  • Dutta, SK (2007) Biodiversity assessment of Dhamra port site and surrounding areas, Orissa Greenpeace India 4-38 Available at -
  • Srinivasulu, C (2004) Birds of kawal wildlife sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh , India Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 101(1) 3-25 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Vernacular names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent Buceros, Envis newsletter: Avian Ecology & Inland Wetlands 62pp Available at -
  • Shanbag A.B, Walia R and Borges S.D (2001) Impact of Konkan railway project on the avifauna of Carambolim lake in Goa Zoos' print journal 16(6) 503-508 Available at -
  • Gupta RC, Kaushik TK and Gupta PK (2012) WINTER MIGRATORY WETLAND BIRDS IN HARYANA ARE CONFRONTING ADVERSE CONDITIONS IN RURAL PONDS Resulting in reduction in arrival number: A case study of village Amin in Thanesar block in Kurukshetra district Indian Journal of Fundamental and Applied Life Sciences 2 (1) 7pp Available at -
  • Kumar P and Gupta SK (2009) Diversity and Abundance of Wetland Birds around Kurukshetra, India Our Nature 7 212-217 Available at -
  • Manakadan R and Pittie A (2001) Standardized English names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent BUCEROS Envis Newsletter: Avian ecology and inland wetland 6(1) 26pp Available at -
  • Kumar A, sati JP and Tak CK (2003) Checklist of Indian Waterbids Buceros Envis Newsletter: Avian ecology and inland wetlands 8(1) 30pp Available at -
  • Lal Mohan RS (1986) Birds and Bird Catchers Of Ramanathapuram Coast Available at -
  • Sivaperuman C and Jayson EA (2000) Birds of Kol wetland, Thrissur, Kerala Zoo's print journal 15(10) 344-349pp Available at -
  • Nikhil Raj PP, Ranjini J, Dhanya R, Subramanian J, Azeez PA and Bhupathy S (2010) Consolidated checklist of birds in the Pallikaranai Wetlands, Chennai, India Journal of Threatened Taxa 2(8) 1114-1118pp Available at -
  • Rao VV, Anjaneyulu M, Nagulu V, Srinivasulu C and Satyanarayana D (2004) Water fowl Status at Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh EPTRI - ENVIS Newsletter 10(4) 7-12pp Available at -,%20No.4,%202004.pdf
  • Narayanan SP, Thomas AP and Sreekumar B (2011) Ornithofauna and its conservation in the Kuttanad wetlands, southern portion of Vembanad-Kole Ramsar site, India Journal of Threatened Taxa 3(4) 1663–1676 Available at -
  • Bhat PI, Cristopher SS and Hosetti BB (2009) Avifaunal diversity of Anekere wetland, Karkala, Udupi district, Karnataka, India Journal of Environmental Biology 30(6) 1059-1062pp Available at -
  • Urfi AJ (2003) The birds of Okhla barrage bird sanctuary, Delhi, India Forktail 19 39-50pp Available at -
  • Ali S and Ripley SD (1968) Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan Oxford university press 1 1-368pp Available at - NIO

Page last updated on:2012-08-02

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