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Grey heron

Ardea cinerea

The grey heron is one of the tallest birds you’ll see in this country, measuring about a metre from bill tip to tail with a whopping wingspan of about 185cm – that’s over six foot.


All about grey heron

Its size, long legs, and smart grey, black and white feathering makes this bird an unmistakeable sight around the estuaries and coastline of the Solent. They have a long white neck, a bright yellow bill and a distinctive black eye-stripe.

You’ll find these fishing experts around any kind of water: lakes, rivers and even garden ponds, standing as still as a statue waiting patiently to spot their next meal swimming by. In flight, their long legs stretch behind them while their necks are pulled in.

Herons nest in colonies called ‘heronries’, mostly in trees, but also in reedbeds, on cliffs, and in bushes.

Local spotlight

You’ll find grey heron throughout the Solent.

Conservation status

Grey heron are on the green list for conservation status.

Did you know?

Like other birds in the heron family, grey heron used to be considered a great delicacy in banquets: to celebrate the appointment of a new Archbishop in the 15th Century, 400 herons were served to the guests.