1555. Ardea cinerea.
The Common Heron.
(Fig. 84, p. 359.) Ardea cinerea, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 236 (1766) ; Blyth, Cat. p. 278; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 741; Hume & Henders. Lah. to Yark. p. 295; Hume, N. & E. p. 610; id. S. F. i, p. 253; Adam, ibid. p. 399; Blyth, Birds Burm. p. 159; Buffer & Hume, S. F. iv, p. 23; Hume, ibid. p. 465; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 472 ; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 230 ; Cripps, ibid. p. 307 ; Hume, Cut. no. 923; Doig, S. F. viii, p. 371; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1127; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 88; Butler, ibid. p. 433; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 99; Scully, ibid, p. 591; Reid, S. F. x, p. 74 ; Davidson, ibid. p. 323 ; Hume, ibid. p. 416; Swinh. Ibis, 1882, p. 123 ; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 243; id. Ibis, 1888, p. 73; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 377; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. vi, p. 142 ; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 332 ; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 233; Sharpe, Yark. Miss., Aves, p. 124; id. Cat. B. M. xxvi, p. 74. Ardea brag, Is. Geoffr. in Jacquem. Voy. iv, Ois. p. 85, pl. 8 (1844).
The Blue Heron, Jerdon; Nari, Sain, Kabud, Anjan, H.; Khyra, in Behar ; Sada-kanka, Anjan, Beng.; Saa, Sind; Narraina pachi, Tel. ; Narrayan, Tam.; Kallapua-karawal-koka, Induru-koka, Cing.
Coloration. Head white, with the exception of the occiput, nuchal plumes, and a broad band from the occiput to each eye, which are purplish black; neck white, tinged with greyish lilac, lower fore neck streaked with black; upper parts from neck, including tertiaries, wing-coverts, and tail-feathers, ashy grey, the scapulars with elongate pearly-grey or whitish tips, outer wing-coverts pale or whitish ; primaries and secondaries, primary-coverts and winglet bluish black ; elongate breast-plumes white ; middle of breast and abdomen, thigh-coverts and lower tail-coverts white; a black patch of lengthened plumes on each side of the breast, continued as a black band on each side of the abdomen to near the vent; sides of body, flanks, and wing-lining ashy grey.
In females the black crest-plumes are shorter and the black feathers on each side of the breast less prominent.
Young birds have the head and neck grey, except a small black nuchal crest, and white chin and throat; scapular and breast-plumes wanting, and no black on the breast, though the black streaks on the fore neck are very conspicuous ; upper plumage brownish grey.
Bill dusky yellow, culmen brownish; loral skin greenish; iris golden yellow; legs and feet greenish brown, with the tibia and posterior part of the tarsus greenish yellow (Legge).
Length 39 ; tail 7 ; wing 18 ; tarsus 6 ; bill from gape 6.
Distribution. The greater part of the Old World. Common in most parts of India and Ceylon; less common, though widely distributed, in Burma.
Habits, &c. A resident bird, breeding in many parts of India.
The Common Heron is generally solitary, and may be seen standing on the edge of water, river, marsh, or tank, looking out for food, chiefly small fish and frogs. It flies heavily with its neck bent and head drawn in, and it has a deep-sounding sonorous call-note, often uttered during flight. The breeding-season is generally in India from March to May, July and August in Sind, November to March in Ceylon. The Common Heron makes a stick-nest on a tree, several pairs often nesting in company, and lays in India, as a rule, three bluish-green eggs, measuring on a average 2.27 by 1.66.