It is a large bird, standing up to 100 cm (39 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. Its plumage is largely grey above, and off-white below. Adults have a white head with a broad black supercilium and slender crest, while immatures have a dull grey head. It has a powerful, pinkish-yellow bill, which is brighter in breeding adults. It 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.

Habitat and Distribution

The Grey heron is native throughout temperate Europe and Asia and also parts of Africa. It is resident in the milder south and west, but many birds retreat in winter from the ice in colder regions. It has become common in summer even inside the Arctic circle along the Norwegian coast.


It feeds in shallow water, catching fish, frogs, and insects with its long bill. Herons will also take small mammals and reptiles. They occasionally take birds up to the size of a Water Rail. It will wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim.


This species breeds in colonies (heronries) in trees close to lakes, the seashore or other wetlands, although it will also nest in reedbeds. It builds a bulky stick nest.

Calls and Songs

The call is a loud croaking `fraaank`