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The grey heron (Ardea cinerea) is a long-legged predatory wading bird of the heron family, native throughout temperate Europe and Asia and also parts of Africa. A bird of wetland areas, it can be seen around lakes, rivers, ponds, marshes and on the sea coast. It feeds mostly on aquatic creatures which it catches after standing stationary beside or in the water or stalking its prey through the shallows.
Standing up to a metre tall, adults weigh from 1 to 2 kg .They have a white head and neck with a broad black stripe that extends from the eye to the black crest. The body and wings are grey above and the underparts are greyish-white, with some black on the flanks. The long, sharply pointed beak is pinkish-yellow and the legs are brown.
The birds breed colonially in spring in “heronries”, usually building their nests high in trees. A clutch of usually three to five bluish-green eggs is laid. Both birds incubate the eggs for a period of about 25 days, and then both feed the chicks, which fledge when seven or eight weeks old. Many juveniles do not survive their first winter, but if they do, they can expect to live for about five years.
The main call is a loud croaking “fraaank”, but a variety of guttural and raucous noises are heard at the breeding colony. The male uses an advertisement call to encourage a female to join him at the nest, and both sexes use various greeting calls after a pair bond has been established.
The grey heron has a slow flight, with its long neck retracted (S-shaped). This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes, and spoonbills, which extend their necks.
This species breeds in colonies known as heronries, usually in high trees close to lakes, the seashore or other wetlands. Other sites are sometimes chosen, and these include low trees and bushes, bramble patches, reed beds, heather clumps and cliff ledges. The same nest is used year after year until blown down; it starts as a small platform of sticks but expands into a bulky nest as more material is added in subsequent years. It may be lined with smaller twigs, strands of root or dead grasses, and in reed beds, it is built from dead reeds. The male usually collects the material while the female constructs the nest. Breeding activities take place between February and June. When a bird arrives at the nest, a greeting ceremony occurs in which each partner raises and lowers its wings and plumes.
The male calling from the chosen nesting site. On the arrival of the female, both birds participate in a stretching ceremony, in which each bird extends its neck vertically before bringing it backwards and downwards with the bill remaining vertical, simultaneously flexing its legs, before returning to its normal stance. The snapping ceremony is another behaviour where the neck is extended forward, the head is lowered to the level of the feet and the mandibles are vigorously snapped together. This may be repeated twenty to forty times. When the pairing is settled, the birds may caress each other by attending to the other bird’s plumage. The male may then offer the female a stick which she incorporates into the nest. At this, the male becomes excited, further preening the female and copulation takes place.
Grey herons have the ability to live in cities where habitats and nesting space are available.
The white breasted waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) is a waterbird of the rail and crake family, Rallidae, that is widely distributed across Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. They are dark slaty birds with a clean white face, breast and belly. They are somewhat bolder than most other rails and are often seen stepping slowly with their tail cocked upright in open marshes or even drains near busy roads. They are largely crepuscular in activity and during the breeding season, just after the first rains, make loud and repetitive croaking calls.
Adult white-breasted waterhens have mainly dark grey upperparts and flanks, and a white face, neck and breast. The lower belly and undertail are cinnamon coloured. The body is flattened laterally to allow easier passage through the reeds or undergrowth. They have long toes, a short tail and a yellow bill and legs. Sexes are similar but females measure slightly smaller. Immature birds are much duller versions of the adults. The downy chicks are black, as with all rails.
These birds are usually seen singly or in pairs as they forage slowly along the edge of a waterbody mainly on the ground but sometimes clambering up low vegetation. The tail is held up and jerked as they walk. They probe with their bill in mud or shallow water, also picking up food by sight. They mainly eat insects (large numbers of beetles have been recorded, small fish, aquatic invertebrates. They may sometimes feed in deeper water in the manner of a moorhen.
The nesting season is mainly June to October but varies locally. They nest in a dry location on the ground in marsh vegetation, laying 6-7 eggs. Courtship involves bowing, billing and nibbling. The eggs hatch in about 19 days. Both sexes incubate the eggs and take care of the chicks. Chicks often dive underwater to escape predation.Adults are said to build a roost or brood nest where young chicks and the adults roost.
Many rails are very secretive, but white-breasted waterhens are often seen out in the open. They can be noisy especially at dawn and dusk, with loud croaky calls.
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Do you miss the chirruping of sparrows outside your window when you wake up in the morning? We’re sure you must have noticed how sparrows have slowly vanished from view since the past few years.
March 20th is a day designated to celebrate house sparrows. Ever since the threat to their population is growing at an alarming rate, the Nature Forever Society of India in collaboration with the Eco-Sys Action Foundation (France) and numerous other national and international organisations across the world took a step toward taking this international initiative.
The house sparrow that was declared the ‘State Bird of Delhi’ in 2012 is becoming a victim of ‘mindless urbanisation’, which is depriving the bird of its natural habitat.
The conservationist also attributed the depleting population of sparrows to the increased use of packed food, insecticides in farming, and changing lifestyles, resulting in an inadequate availability of food for the birds.
“Unlike pigeons that can make nests on ledges, sparrows need cavities to build their nests. Since the new matchbox style buildings don’t have cavities, sparrows are now homeless.
World Sparrow Day also has a broader vision to provide a platform where people who are working on the conservation of the house sparrow and other common birds can network, collaborate and exchange conservation ideas which will lead to better science and improved results. It aims to provide a meeting ground for people from different parts of the world to come together and form a force that can play an important role in advocacy and in spreading the awareness on the need of conserving common biodiversity or species of lower conservation status
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You can download not only these files but thousands of Birds, animals, nature landscape and wildlife images.All images can be used for commercial purpose.All images are captured by Dr. Mukesh Garg. Please feel free to download images for using them as wallpaper, canvas, photo frame, make an album or for school educational project.business, personal, charitable and educational design projects: it may be used in web design, printed media, advertising, book covers and pages, music artwork, software applications and much more. Please note the image you download will not have a watermark