how big is a heron bird

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Taxonomy and systematics editSee also:

Studies on the skeleton, particularly the skull, revealed that the Ardeidae could be divided into two groups: the diurnal group, which comprised the bitterns, and the crepuscular/nocturnal group. Based on DNA research and skeletal analyses that concentrate more on the limbs and body bones, this classification has been shown to be inaccurate. [18] Rather, convergent evolution to address the disparate challenges of daytime and nighttime feeding is reflected in the similarities in skull morphology. Three main groups are thought to be distinguishable today[19][20], and they are as follows:

  • tiger herons and the boatbill
  • bitterns
  • day herons and egrets, and night herons

The night herons might be justified in being divided into the subfamily Nycticoracinae, as has historically been the case. However, the position of some genera (e. g. Currently, however, Butorides or Syrigma) is unknown, and molecular research has been hindered by the limited number of examined taxa up to this point. Particularly, there is a severe lack of resolution in the relationships within the subfamily Ardeinae. The arrangement presented here should be considered provisional.

According to a 2008 study, this family is Pelecaniformes related. [21] The International Ornithological Congress reclassified the sister taxa Threskiornithidae and Ardeidae under the order Pelecaniformes rather than the previous order Ciconiiformes in response to these findings. [22].


Tigriornis – white-crested tiger heron

Tigrisoma – tiger herons (3 species)


Cochlearius – boat-billed heron


Agamia – agami heron


Zebrilus – zigzag heron

Botaurus – bitterns (6 species)

Ixobrychus – bitterns (8 species of which 1 extinct)


Gorsachius – night herons (4 species)

Calherodius – night herons (2 species)

Pilherodius – capped heron

Syrigma – whistling heron

Egretta – herons and egrets (13 species)

Nyctanassa – night herons (2 species of which 1 extinct)

Nycticorax – night herons (6 species of which 4 extinct)

Butorides – herons (3 species)

Ardeola – pond herons (6 species)

Ardea – herons and egrets (14 species, including cattle egrets)

The IOC lists 72 species as of July 2023, broken down into 18 genera. [22].

  • Subfamily Tigriornithinae Genus Taphophoyx Three species of typical tiger herons (Genus Tigrisoma) and the white-crested tiger heron (Genus Tigriornis) fossilized in the Late Miocene of Levy County, Florida
  • Subfamily Cochleariinae
    • Genus Cochlearius – boat-billed heron
  • Subfamily Agamiinae
    • Genus Agamia – Agami heron
  • The subfamily Botaurinae contains the zigzag heron Genus Zebrilus, small bitterns (eight living species, one recently extinct), large bitterns (four species), and Saint Bathans bittern (fossil, Early Miocene of Otago, New Zealand).
  • Subfamily Ardeinae Genus Zeltornis (fossil, Early Miocene of Djebel Zelten, Libya) Genus Nycticorax – typical night herons (two living species, four recently extinct; sometimes includes Nyctanassa) Genus Nyctanassa – American night herons (one living species, one recently extinct) Genus Gorsachius – Asian and African night herons (three species; occasionally included in Ardea) Genus Butorides – green-backed herons (three species; occasionally included in Ardea) Genus Bubulcus – cattle egrets (one or two species, sometimes included in Ardea) Genus Proardea (fossil) Genus Ardea – typical herons (11–17 species) Genus Syrigma – whistling heron Genus Egretta – typical egrets (7–13 species) Genus undetermined Easter Island et sp. indet. (prehistoric).
  • “Anas” basaltica (Late Oligocene of Varnsdorf, Czech Republic)
  • Ardeagradis
  • Proardeola – possibly same as Proardea
  • Matuku (Early Miocene of Otago, New Zealand)

Additional fossil and prehistoric species are listed in the corresponding genus accounts. Furthermore, Proherodius is a controversial fossil that has been divided into two categories: a heron and a member of the Presbyornithidae family of long-legged waterfowl that is extinct. It has only been identified from a sternum; the tarsometatarsus that has been attributed to it actually originates from the paleognath Lithornis vulturinus.

Distribution and habitat edit

The herons are a widespread family with a cosmopolitan distribution. They are found in most habitats, with the exception of the driest deserts, extremely high mountains, and the coldest regions of the Arctic. They are found on all continents with the exception of Antarctica. Since they are essentially non-swimming waterbirds that graze on the edges of lakes, rivers, swamps, ponds, and the ocean, almost all species are connected to water. While some species are found in alpine regions, they are mostly found in lowland areas, with the majority of species occurring in tropical regions. [7].

The majority of the heron species are at least partially migratory, making the family extremely mobile. For instance, the grey heron is primarily sedentary in Britain but primarily migratory in Scandinavia. After mating but before the yearly migration, birds are especially likely to spread out widely in order to find new feeding areas and lessen the strain on feeding grounds close to the colony. The migration usually takes place at night, with people migrating alone or in small groups. [7].


How tall is a full grown heron?

The grey heron is a large bird, standing up to 100 cm (40 in) tall and measuring 84–102 cm (33–40 in) long with a 155–195 cm (61–77 in) wingspan. The body weight can range from 1.02–2.08 kg (2 lb 4 oz – 4 lb 91?4 oz).

How big is the heron?

Characteristics and Behavior. Great blue herons’ size (3.2 to 4.5 feet) and wide wingspan (5.5 to 6.6 feet) make them a joy to see in flight. They can cruise at some 20 to 30 miles an hour. Though great blue herons hunt alone, they typically nest in colonies.

What is the average size of a great blue heron?

Appearance. The great blue heron grows to 4 feet tall with a 6 to 7 foot wingspan.

What is the largest heron in the United States?

The great blue is the largest heron in North America, standing close to five feet tall, with a wingspan of up to 6.5 feet. Its large size, blue-gray coloration, and black-striped head distinguish it from other large North American herons, including the Great Egret and the Reddish Egret.