Black-headed Heron, Ardea melanocephala
A large, grayish heron of drier habitats; note distinctly dark cap and nape contrasting with white throat. In-flight, the underwing is strongly contrasting black-and-white. The juvenile is duskier and duller. Juveniles resemble juvenile Gray Herons, juvenile Black-headed Herons have slate-gray rather than yellow legs. Gray Heron also has uniformly gray (not black-and-white) underwings.
It often feeds in shallow water, spearing fish or frogs with its long, sharp bill. It will also hunt well away from water, taking large insects, small mammals, and birds. It will wait motionless for its prey, or slowly stalk its victim.
The black-headed heron is largely sedentary, meaning that they will only migrate in response to a depletion of food. They are happy to nest in colonies of mixed bird species, often consisting of as many as 200 other birds. Generally, they hunt alone, but are not opposed to the idea of hunting while in a loosely-congregated feeding flock. A heron may travel up to 30 kilometers a day between its preferred feeding ground and its roost. This is a monogamous bird, sticking to one partner for life.
Herons usually breed in the wet season in colonies in trees, reedbeds, or cliffs using sticks, leaves and straw .
The male will use a loud yelp to attract a mate. Once the breeding pair has mated, she will build the nest from the materials that he gathers and then she will lay between 2 and 4 eggs in it. Both the male and the female are responsible for incubating the eggs until they hatch. Little is known about these chicks until they fledge, which happens at around 52 days of age, a week after which they become completely independent of the care of their parents.
Up to 35 breeding pairs can be found in one large tree, making this a very social, gregarious time for the adult birds.
“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~Frank Lloyd Write
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