February 10, 2018 – Madagascar Pond-heron, Malagasy Pond-heron, or Madagascar Squacco Heron (Ardeola idae)
Breeding in Madagascar and on some surrounding islands, these herons winter in parts of central and eastern Africa. Hunting alone, they feed on fish, frogs, skinks, and geckos, as well as grasshoppers, beetles, and other small invertebrates. They build their bulky twig nests in trees and bushes near water. Once nesting in groups of up to 1,000 pairs, they now often join other birds in mixed-species colonies. They are classified as Endangered by the IUCN due to habitat loss, the over-harvesting of their eggs and chicks, and competition for food with invasive fish species, which have contributed to a rapid decline in their population.
November 26, 2017 – Dwarf Bittern (Ixobrychus sturmii)
These bitterns are found in much of sub-Saharan Africa, except for arid areas. They eat insects, frogs, small fish, crabs, spiders, and snails, mostly hunting at night and at dusk while wading in shallow water or perching on grasses. Pairs build flimsy nests from twigs and grass stems in flooded bushes or trees. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the chicks.
September 19, 2017 – Rufous-bellied Heron (Ardeola rufiventris)
These herons are found in grassy flood plains, swamps, and other grassy areas near water in parts of southern Africa. They eat small fish, frogs, crustaceans, aquatic insects, and worms, usually foraging alone while walking slowly in a crouch. Breeding during rains and floods, they nest colonially in reeds, trees, or shrubs near water, building their small platform nests from reeds and twigs. The chicks grow quickly, leaving the nest in around 17 days and fledging at around 24 days old.
June 11, 2017 – Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus)
These small bitterns are found in grassy areas and flooded rice fields in parts of South and Southeast Asia and eastern China. They eat fish, including eels, along with frogs, mollusks, and insects, foraging mostly at dawn and dusk and often roosting during the day. Their small nests are made from sticks, sedge, reeds, dry leaves, and grasses and are frequently located in rice fields and reed beds. Both parents incubate the eggs.
February 3, 2017 – Black-headed Heron (Ardea melanocephala)
These herons are found in Africa from Senegal east to Eritrea and south to South Africa. They eat insects, small mammals, reptiles, and birds, moving slowly through the grass before freezing and striking at their prey. Monogamous pairs nest in small colonies with other heron species. Females do most of the nest construction, building platform nests from twigs, lined with leaves and other soft materials, in trees, reed beds, cliffs, or on small islands. Both parents incubate the eggs.
November 7, 2016 – Great Egret, Great White Egret, or Great White Heron (Ardea alba, Egretta alba, or Casmerodius albus)
Requested by: @freshommlette
With a range that covers most of the world, these egrets are found in North, Central, and South America, as well as Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. They eat mostly small fish, along with amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, and invertebrates, often standing motionless in or near the water while hunting. During the breeding season they grow long plumes, using them in courtship displays. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries they were hunted for these feathers, which were often used in hats. Males build platforms of twigs and sticks before attracting females, which often help them complete the nests.
July 26, 2016 – Pied Heron (Egretta picata)
These herons are found along the coasts of northern Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea. They eat mostly aquatic insects, along with some crustaceans, amphibians, and other small animals. While hunting, they often walk slowly in shallow water or along the shore, or stand motionless waiting to strike at prey. Nesting during the summer monsoon, they form large mixed-species colonies and build twig nests, usually in mangrove trees.