789. Purple Heron.
Ardea purpurea, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 236 (1766) ; Naum. ix. p. 63, Taf. 221 ; Hewitson, ii. p. 271, pl. lxxiv. fig. 2 ; Gould, B. of E. iv. pl. 274 ; id. B. of Gt. Brit. iv. pl. 21 ; Dresser, vi. p. 217, pl. 396 ; (Sharpe), Cat. B. Br. Mus. xxvi. p. 60 ; Saunders, p. 369 ; Lilford, vii. p. 13, pl. 5.
Heron pourpre, French ; Garca, Portug. ; Garza moruna, Span. ; Airone rosso, Ital. ; Purpur-Reiher, German ; Roode-Reiger, Dutch ; Purpurhejre, Dan. and Norw. ; Purpurhager, Swed. ; Tschepura, Russ. ; Kermesiwach, Tartar ; Siad el mraj, Moor.
Male ad. (Spain). Differs from A. cinerea in having the crown black, the neck rusty reddish instead of ashy grey, the elongated scapular plumes intermixed with rusty red ; quills and tail deep ashy plumbeous ; elongated plumes on the lower neck striped with black ; breast rich maroon red marked with black in the middle ; flanks ashy grey ; under tail-coverts black and white ; soft parts as in A. cinerea. The female is duller and smaller. In winter the long plumes are absent. The young bird lacks the long plumes, has the crown rusty reddish, the upper parts greyish brown with broad yellowish rusty margins, and the under parts dull ochreous white, the flanks brownish ashy.
Hab. Europe, rarer in the north ; of occasional occurrence in Southern Scandinavia and Great Britain ; Madeira, the Canaries, and Cape de Verde Islands ; Africa and Madagascar ; Asia east to the Persian Gulf, being replaced further east by A. manil¬lensis, Meyen, a closely allied form differing in lacking the black streaks on the fore-neck.
In habits it resembles the Bittern more than A. cinerea, in not frequenting open waters, but skulking among the dense aquatic herbage. It feeds chiefly on fish, but also on frogs, mice, and aquatic insects. Its call is not so loud or harsh as that of A. cinerea. Like that species it nests in societies, not on trees, but its nest, which is a mere platform of dry rushes or sticks, is placed among the aquatic herbage or on a bush. Its eggs, 3 or 4 in number, are deposited in April or early in May, and resemble those of A. cinerea but are smaller, measuring about 2.18 by 1.61.
789. Ardea purpurea
789. Purple Heron.