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Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Herons, Egrets and Bitterns

Herons, egrets and bitterns as a group are varied and have a worldwide distribution, but are common in the tropics. These wading birds are often associated with both fresh and coastal water where they feed at the edge of lakes, rivers, and the sea on aquatic prey including fish, amphibians, and reptiles. Some species may specialise...

Herons, egrets and bitterns as a group are varied and have a worldwide distribution, but are common in the tropics. These wading birds are often associated with both fresh and coastal water where they feed at the edge of lakes, rivers, and the sea on aquatic prey including fish, amphibians, and reptiles. Some species may specialise on certain prey items such as crabs, while others may feed opportunistically on birds and their eggs, and rodents. When in flight this group of birds can be distinguished from other similarly shaped birds such as storks and cranes by their retracted necks.

We would like to thank all the photographers that submitted photos of herons, egrets, and bitterns, your pictures can bring awareness about the beauty and diversity of this group of birds. Here we present the Top 25 photographs of herons, egrets and bitterns.

Purple herons breed in Africa, central and southern Europe, and southern and eastern Asia in freshwater habitats (Ajoy Kumar Dawn)
Cattle egret with cattle in Bhasra Ghat, India, this bird gets its name from its association with cattle (Gargi Biswas)
Black bitterns breed in tropical Asia and Australia in reed beds, photographed here in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore (Senthil Kumar Damodaran)
Close up of a black-crowned night heron juvenile photographed in Puerto Rico (Raymond De Jesus Asencio)
Green herons are distributed in North and Central America, they use bait such as insects or bread crusts to lure fish to the surface of the water so that they can then grab the fish (Jola Charlton)
The snowy egret is distributed in the Americas in marsh habitats, they feed on fish, insects, small reptiles, and frogs (Kelly Hunt)
Striated herons breed in west Africa, Japan, Australia, and South America, they wait at the waters edge to ambush prey which includes fish, frogs, and aquatic insects (Indranil Bhattacharjee)
Close up of the Malayan night heron also known as the tiger bittern, it is distributed in southern and eastern Asia and feeds on earthworms, frogs, and sometimes fish, photographed here in Taipei, Taiwan (Pradnya Paralkar)
Cinnamon bitterns breed in tropical and subtropical Asia and they use grassland and marsh habitats (Samir Brahmbhatt)
Black-headed herons are distributed across much of sub-Saharan Africa, they feed on insects, reptiles, and small mammals (Edwin Godinho)
Black-crowned night herons have a wide distribution globally, they breed in wetland habitats and ambush their prey by standing still at the waters edge (S. Alagu Ganesh)
Eurasian bittern with prey photographed in Ankara, Turkey, these birds are secretive and move in reed beds close to water, their diet includes small mammals, fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and insects (ZAfer Tekin)
Great blue heron and alligators at Everglades National park, Florida, USA, this heron is found throughout most of North America (J Bernardo Sanchez)
Great egrets are found worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats, making use of wetlands and feeding on fish, frogs, and small mammals (Hitesh Chawla)
Intermediate egrets use shallow water wetlands, they feed on small fish and insects, and make use of various displays when breeding (Manoj Nair)
Indian pond heron in flight, the white wings are not observed while they stalk their prey and this allows them to blend well with their surrounding habitat (Gur Simrat Singh)
Purple heron with fish catch in Hussainiwala Reservoir, Ferozepur, India (Vishesh Kamboj)
Yellow bittern photographed in Coochbehar Outskirts, West Bengal, India (Prashanta Bhattacharjee)
The western reef heron is distributed in southern Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia, they stalk prey in the water and once spotted will stand motionless to ambush the prey (Chirag Parmar)
Tricolored herons are native to coastal parts of the Americas, they use swamp habitats and feed on fish, crustaceans, reptiles, and insects (Owen Deutsch)
Goliath heron hunting near a hippo pool at the edge of the Grumeti river, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, it is the largest heron species and spends most of its time close to water (Teri Franzen)
Reddish egrets breed in Central America, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Gulf coast of the USA, and Mexico, they do an animated dance running in the water while using the shadow of their wings reduce the glare so that they can accurately spear fish to eat (Melissa Penta)
Little egrets have an expanding distribution, they breed in warm to temperate parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia in open habitats close to water (Kumar Kumud Gangesh)
Indian pond heron perched with its white wing feathers out of sight, photographed in Sri Lanka (Subhamoy Das)
Grey herons are native to temperate Europe, Asia, and some parts of Africa, they make use of habitats close to water and have adapted to living in cities with suitable water habitats (Unmesh Jadav)

Our mission is to build a global community around the freedom and beauty of birds in the wild as ambassadors for the natural ecosystems that they depend upon. They are the music, decoration, and character of every terrestrial habitat on the planet and have been around since the dinosaurs. They are the witnesses and ambassadors of the awesome power of nature. The wide availability of good, cheap optics has opened their world to us for the last few decades. Amazing, affordable DSLR cameras with long lenses are delivering brilliant digital bird imagery to online communities.

We are in a day-and-age during which more bird species are threatened with extinction than ever before. The Wild Birds! Revolution aims to publish the “Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week” to 1 million people every week by the end of the year. That is a revolution that will change the world! Join thousands of other weekend naturalists, photographers, birders, experts, hikers, nature-lovers, guides, scientists, conservationists and artists that share the thousands of wild bird photographs submitted to the Wild Bird Trust website and Facebook page. Thousands of wild bird enthusiasts are going out every day to photograph our planet’s beautiful birdlife. Pick up your camera, fill your bird feeder, open your heart, and join the Wild Birds! Revolution!!

Edited by Laurie Johnson, Campaign Manager


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Meet the Author

Steve Boyes
Steve Boyes has dedicated his life to conserving Africa's wilderness areas and the species that depend upon them. After having worked as a camp manager and wilderness guide in the Okavango Delta and doing his PhD field work on the little-known Meyer's Parrot, Steve took up a position as a Centre of Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. He has since been appointed the Scientific Director of the Wild Bird Trust and is a 2014 TED Fellow. His work takes him all over Africa, but his day-to-day activities are committed to South Africa's endemic and Critically Endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus). Based in Hogsback Village in the Eastern Cape (South Africa), Steve runs the Cape Parrot Project, which aims to stimulate positive change for the species through high-quality research and community-based conservation action. When not in Hogsback, Steve can be found in the Okavango Delta where he explores remote areas of this wetland wilderness on "mokoros" or dug-out canoes to study endangered bird species in areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Steve is a 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work in the Okavango Delta and on the Cape Parrot Project.