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This is an article about the family of birds named Herons. See Heron (disambiguation) for other usages.''


Snowy Egret
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Order: Ciconiiformes
* see also: Bittern
Herons are medium to large long-legged, long-necked wading birds of the family Ardeidae, which also includes the egrets and bitterns.

Within the family Ardeidae, all members of the genera, Botaurus and Ixobrychus are classed as bitterns, not herons, however the species sometimes known as egrets are simply white-coloured herons with decorative plumes, and not a biologically distinct group. The classification of the individual heron species is fraught with difficulty, and there is still no clear consensus about the correct placement of many species into either of the two major genera, Ardea and Egretta.

The Boatbill is sometimes classed as a heron, and sometimes given its own family Cochlearidae.

Although herons resemble other families, such as the storks, ibises and spoonbills, unlike the latter groups, herons fly with their necks retracted, not outstretched.

Herons typically feed in shallow water or marshes, taking fish, frogs or small birds and mammals.


See also: