Small wetland herons
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Black-crowned Night-Heron L: 61 cm (24") |WS: 110–120 cm (43–47") A plump, short-legged, bull-necked heron, active at dawn and dusk . The adult is grey, with a white face, large reddish eyes, and black cap and back . Immatures are brown and streaky, with pale spots on the upperside . An uncommon resident in Kruger, this bird feeds mainly at night, emerging at dusk and often calling a distinctive, odd “kwoerk” as it disperses to forage in nearby wetlands . During the day it roosts communally in dense foliage overhanging water, where it can be hard to see . Colonies are the targets of pythons and monitors that will readily prey on unattended chicks . Green-backed Heron L: 40 cm (16") |WS: 62–70 cm (24–28") This very small, compact heron is mostly dark green, with yellow legs, and has a dark cap that can be erected as a short crest . Immatures are browner and streakier than adults . It is a common breeding resident in Kruger . Inconspicuous and solitary, it often stands hunched next to the water, peering downwards, waiting to stab at prey . It has been recorded using bait, such as spiders, insects, bread and even paper, to lure fishes within range . It makes short, quick flights low over the water, with jerky wingbeats, when its pale feet are conspicuous . Small wetland herons adult adult immature immature adult adult 24 Squacco Heron L: 46 cm (18") |WS: 80–92 cm (32–36") This compact, thick-necked, heron is tan-brown on the head, breast and back, streaked in non-breeding plumage, with all-white wings and tail . At rest, it can be difficult to see, but on taking flight it reveals its startlingly contrasting white wings . When breeding, it has a bluish hue to the face and bill, but at other times the face is yellowish and the head and neck are streaked darker . Squacco Herons tend to be solitary and uncommon but widespread residents in Kruger, preferring water bodies with emergent vegetation where they can skulk inconspicuously . Black Heron L: 51 cm (20") |WS: 90–95 cm (35–37") The names heron and egret are often interchangeable; this ‘heron’ is small and slim, more like an all-dark egret, with dark legs and yellow feet . The juvenile is brown and lacks the adult’s elongated plumes . Rare and somewhat nomadic in Kruger, it is more frequently recorded between December and March, or in wetter years . It prefers shallow edges of marshes, rivers, dams and lakes . It forages using a unique technique, flinging its wings open and forwards in a stiff arch, and freezing in an ‘umbrella’ posture for a few seconds . The purpose of this behaviour is unclear, but it may create a patch of shade, so the egret can see more clearly into the water, or it may serve to attract prey, or both . BIRDS OF RIVERS AND WETLANDS adult immature adult 25 ...