Black Heron – Egretta ardesiaca

Black heron in flight (image: wikipedia)

Cunning heron fools its prey by blocking out the sun

Common to the southern Sahara and Central East Africa, the black heron uses a crafty means of luring fish towards its waiting mouth – creating a canopy with its jet-black wings to give the false impression of shaded safety.  Under the intense sunlight of central Africa, the shade created by the heron’s canopy feeding technique allows the heron to avoid surface glare, and so see fish disturbed by kicking the lake floor.

The heron’s distinctive hunting technique is achieved by the bird arching its wings forward over its neck and head and seeming to glide across the surface of the water like an umbrella or unruly wig!  The heron’s hunting technique means it prefers the shallow waters of lake margins, marshes and ditches, preying mostly on small fish, crustaceans and amphibians.

A highly sociable bird, the black heron roosts communally at night in flocks of up to 200 birds, with especially large flocks numbering into the thousands.

 

Canopy feeding technique (image: copyright John van der Woude, http://home.tiscali.nl/jvanderw/)

 

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