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Alternative names: Little Heron, Little Green Heron, Green-backed Heron and Mangrove Heron. Sometimes treated as conspecific with Green Heron (Butorides virescens), then taking that English name
Includes: Lava Heron
Length 35-48 cm (14-18 in), wingspan 52-60 cm, weight 135-250 g.
A dumpy little heron with a large head and bill. General colour blackish green; grey below; throat white; down foreneck dependent on subpecies; erectile feathers on crown, at rest extending down nape, scapulars and wing-feathers margined with white, or buffy-white ; hind-neck, sides of face, abdomen, sides of body, axillaries, and under wing-coverts grey, somewhat paler on the vent and under tail-coverts ; throat and fore-neck white with an irregular line of dark chestnut-brown feathers down the middle which spreads out and becomes pale rufous on the breast ; outer edge of wing white. Bare parts: iris yellow, deep orange when breeding; lores green to blue, yellow when breeding; bill black above, yellow green below with black tip, entirely black when breeding; feet and legs grey brown in front, yellow behind, yellow to reddish orange when breeding.
Gender can be told by colour of the legs, orange or red in males and yellow in females according to Forbes-Watson (1969), though this statement has rarely been repeated.
Two Australian subspecies, B. s. macrorhyncha and B. s. stagnatilis, occur in both a grey and a rufous morph, while the normally grey nominate B. s. striata also occurs in a rare rufous-necked morph (confirmed for Peru and Bolivia; possibly also elsewhere).
 Similar Species
Adults are generally distinctive. Rufous-necked morph of nominate race is paler, and has a greyer belly than the Green Heron (limited overlap between the two in coastal Venezuela, Trinidad & Tobago, coastal northern Colombia and eastern Panama).
Hybrids between Striated and Green Herons showing intermediate plumage have been recorded. Juveniles of Striated and Green Heron are virtually inseparable.
Widespread in South America (except far south and the Andes), sub-Saharan Africa (except far south), warmer parts of Asia, coastal northern and eastern Australia, and islands in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. See Subspecies, below, for further information on range. Most subspecies are sedentary or with local dispersal only, but two Asian races, B. s. amurensis and B. s. actophilus, migrate south following breeding.
Generally common and widespread. Some localised subspecies are rarer, and it has been estimated that only around 100 individuals remain of the subspecies B. s. patruelis.
The scientific name was recently corrected from Butorides striatus to Butorides striata. This species was previously sometimes placed in the genus Ardeola.
Very variable, with 21-22 subspecies currently accepted:
 American subspecies
 African and Middle East subspecies
 Indian Ocean subspecies
 Asian subspecies
 Australasian subspecies
 Galapagos subspecies
The monophyly of all subspecies of Striated Heron with respect to Green Heron is yet to be established. Some authorities include Green Heron as a further subspecies to avoid this question; others have suggested that Striated Heron may be split into several species in the future.
The species shows a preference for forested water margins such as mangrove-lined shores and estuaries, or dense woody vegetation fringing ponds, rivers, lakes and streams. Other suitable habitats include river swamps, canals, artificial ponds, salt-flats, mudflats, tidal zones, exposed coral reefs, reedbeds, grassy marshland, pastures, rice-fields and other flooded cultivation. In plains to an altitude of 750m, occasionally up to 1300m. There have also been a few records in savannah woodland, where the bird would hunt tadpoles in shallow pools, far away from permanent water.
This species is extremely territorial and often forages and nests alone, occasionally in good conditions the birds nest in loosely spaced groups of 5-15 pairs, or even more rarely, in very large groups of several hundred pairs. This territoriality extends to their foraging behaviour, where birds will stand on floating debris, hunting for trapped insects, until the debris leaves their immediate territory, at which they will return to the bank. Often seen watching water from a shallow perch for food, also sometimes in rice fields. When hunting the birds will occasionally use 'bait' dropping a feather or leaf on the water and spearing the fish that come to investigate. There have also been reports of birds dropping bread scraps in the water.
Another interesting foraging technique is using a floating piece of debris as a 'base' from which they can float into deeper water, and have been observed diving into the water to a considerable depth in order to catch a fish. Although they forage throughout the day their activity spikes in the evening and morning. They nest near water in broadleaf forest or shrub canopy shelter.
Young Birds will occasionally give a display if threatened, which consists of stretching their neck, and pointing their bill up. An additional threat display is detailed and illustrated here. Adults will freeze when disturbed; standing motionless with their bills at 45Â°. Often relatively tame around inhabited areas.
Diet is mainly fish, frogs, snails and insects, though stomach content analysis contained fragments of Limnocharis (A common wetland plant) and insect fragments
The breeding season varies according to the location, but in the tropics occurs during heavy rains. Nest is a small, shallow structure of twigs, placed hidden among the braches of trees and shrubs (especially mangroves Rhizophora spp. and Avicennia spp., but also other trees) between 0.3 and 10 m above the water, ridiculously small for the bird, normally being a few dry sticks put together. Clutch of 3-5 eggs, both the male and female co-incubate, through a period of 20-22 days. Eggs are pale blue and measure 36x28mm. In China the breeding season is April to September, wintering around the coastal areas of Jiangsu, but numbering less than one hundred.
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