Belongs to: herons & crakes

Compare with: little egret

Grey heron Ardea cinerea

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Large grey and white heron with long neck and bill

Habitat: freshwater margins, marshes and occasionally gardens, visiting in search of goldfish in ponds

Widespread and common resident


Large heron with grey, black and white plumage, yellow dagger-like bill and large wings; 90 cm

Wades or stands still by water's edge, spearing fish, amphibians, small mammals and, very occasionally, birds

Flight very laboured and floppy with legs outstretched


Nest colonially in heronries – once these are established birds return to the same site year after year

Courtship begins with a dance in which the male stretched its neck up and over its back with the bill pointing up

Nest is a large platform of twigs high in trees; one brood of 3-5 pale greenish-blue eggs, February – April

© David Harrison

© Ken Wooldridge