HERONS are widely distributed and vary greatly in size, from the Goliath Heron of Africa, standing nearly five feet, to the diminutive Night Herons of Japan, some of which are only a few inches high. The Grey Heron is still fairly common in this country and the large nests of sticks which it builds in trees are a fairly familiar sight. Associating for breeding in colonies, these birds are usually more solitary for the rest of the year, and spend more time by the side of streams, patiently standing immovable to catch their prey by lightning-like thrusts of their sharp bills. In olden times they were a favourite object of pursuit for trained falcons, and often did not come off second best in such encounters.
It may be mentioned that the ‘osprey ‘feathers formerly much used in millinery are obtained from a species of heron, namely the Egret, and great numbers of these birds used to be killed to obtain these plumes. Moreover, since these feathers were only obtainable during the breeding season and from the hens, the young ones were left to perish as well as their parents.