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Grey Herons in Ireland

Grey Heron

The grey heron is one of Ireland's most distinctive birds. With it's long neck, long legs, grey plumage, long head crest, and dagger-like bill it is impossible to confuse with another Irish bird.

The heron's upperparts are grey, however the head, neck and belly are white. The crest is black and black markings continue down the throat to the belly.

They are most often observed alone however where feeding is good they may congregate in relatively large numbers. They are known to gather in large numbers in Dublin Zoo near the sealion enclosure, particularly around feeding time.

Irish Name for Grey Heron

The Irish word for grey heron is Corr ghlas.

Grey Heron Feeding

A grey heron's diet consists fish, frogs and other amphibians, ducklings, other birds, and small rodents such as mice.

Herons feed in shallow water often waiting for long periods motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim. Due to their S-shaped neck, the bird is able to strike with their bill very rapidly. Herons are a wading bird generally avoiding swimming whenever possible.

They have been known to hunt for small mammals in open fields after crops have been harvested. Herons will also clear garden ponds of fish if not deterred.

Grey Herons Nesting

Grey Heron eggs

A grey heron's nest is made from large twigs and grass and is constructed by both the male and female. The nest forms a large platform in tall trees and are usually built in colonies called a heronry.

The duty of incubating the eggs are performed by both parents. The eggs are about 60 mm by 43 mm, and pale greenish-blue. Both adults birds also feed the chicks.

Grey Herons in Winter

Grey Herons are most usually found in the same wetland habitats during the winter as they are in the breeding season. Herons that breed in Ireland are believed to be sedentary however birds from Britain and as far away as Scandinavia join the Irish population for the winter.

Grey Heron

Scientific Name: Ardea cinerea

Order:
Ciconiiformes

Family:
Ardeidae

Irish Status:
Resident

Length: 94cm Wingspan: 185cm Weight: M & F: 1.5kg

Call: : The most common call is a loud, rasping "fraark", which is frequently made in flight.

Habitat: Wetlands - rivers, lakes & ponds, estuaries.

Diet: Fish, frogs & other amphibians, small mammals, and sometimes birds.

Nesting:
March-July
Breeding Age:
From 2 years
Number of Eggs:
3-4
No. of Clutches:
1 (2 rarely)
Incubation (days):
27
Fledging (days):
50-55
Lifespan:
5 years. Record is 23 years & 9 months.

Conservation Status in Ireland: GREEN

Grey Heron Range in Ireland

The grey heron is a permanent resident and is widespread and common throughout Ireland.

Map of the range of Grey Herons in Ireland.
Grey heron, gulls, ducks and coots in  Sean Walsh Park in Tallaght, Dublin 24
Grey Heron in Sean Walsh Park in Tallaght, Dublin 24
Grey heron in Tallaght, Dublin 24<

A Grey Heron in Sean Walsh Park in Tallaght, Dublin 24

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