Any of about 60 species of long-legged wading birds in the same family (Ardeidae) as egrets and bitterns. They are found worldwide but are most common in the tropics. They wade in the shallow waters of pools, marshes, and swamps, catching frogs, fishes, and other aquatic animals. They nest on rough stick platforms in bushes or trees near water. Herons commonly stand with their neck bent in an S shape and fly with their legs trailing and their head held back. They have broad wings and a long, straight, sharp-pointed bill. They are subdivided into typical herons (including the 50-in., or 130-cm, great blue heron of North America), night herons, and tiger herons.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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