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Inlcudes: Cape Verde Purple Heron
80-90 cm tall, with a 120-150 cm wingspan, weighing 0.5-1.3 kg. It is similar to the Grey Heron, but its plumage is a darker reddish-brown and the adults have a darker grey back. It has a narrower yellow bill, which is brighter in breeding adults.
A widespread Old World species. Has a patchy breeding range in the Netherlands and parts of Germany, in north and central France, and across southern Europe from Iberia to Greece and Turkey, north to Ukraine and east to the Caspian and Aral Seas. Also breeds in Iraq, and from Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, throughout South-East Asia, north to the Russian Far east and south to Java and Sulawesi. Breeds at a few sites in North Africa, on the Cape Verde Islands and Senegal and more commonly in Madagascar and East Africa from southern Kenya southwards.
Western Palearctic breeders are mainly migratory and winter throughout sub-Saharan Africa, most other populations are resident although north-east Asian birds may vacate breeding areas in winter. On passage occurs throughout southern Europe and the Middle East.
Rare but regular passage visitor in very small numbers to Britain with about 20 records per year, mainly in southern England although there have been records north to Scotland. Also occurs as a rare migrant to other northern European countries and a vagrant north to Iceland and the Faroes, Norway, Sweden and Finland.
There are three or four subspecies:
Shallow freshwaters with abundant vegetation, especially reedbeds, where usually breeds, also in mangroves in some areas. On passage and in winter in more open habitats, even grassland at times.
It builds a nest made of sticks.
It feeds in shallow water, catching fish, frogs or insects on its long, sharp bill. It will often wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim.
Its flight is slow and in flight it retracts its neck. This is a characteristic of herons and bitterns; it differentiates them from storks, cranes and spoonbills, which extend their necks.
The call is a loud croaking krek.
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