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ENVIRONMENTS FLORA-FAUNA DIDACTICS IMAGES GLOSSARY CREDITS
SCIENTIFIC NAME
COMMON NAME
THUMBNAILS
Kingdom Animalia
Click to hear the call  Click to watch the video
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Ciconiiformes
Family Ardeidae
Genus Ardea
Species purpurea
Classification Linnaeus, 1766
Common name purple heron
Size 78 - 90 centimeters
Wing Span 120 - 150 centimeters
Male weight 600 - 1400 grams
Female weight 600 - 1400 grams

Geographic Range it is found in the Palearctic Southern region, the Afrotropical region, (Africa South of the Sahara), the Oriental region (Asia South of the Himalayas).
Physical Characteristics its body is dark and elongated. Its head and neck are narrow and elongated. Its beak can be used as a harpoon to catch prey. The long paws allow the purple heron to reach the deepest water. The long and well-spaced fingers allow the purple heron to walk easily on marshy grounds and on water vegetation. Its typical stretching neck completes its beak, increasing the efficiency and the speed of the attack to prey. It can live up to 23 years.
Behaviour it is bred in small colonies. It catches prey in shallow water stretching its neck forward and hitting it.
Habitat in Europe it prefers mild areas and it can be found in soft water marshes with thick vegetation, along canals and beds of reeds.
Flight it flaps its wings slowly, keeping its head folded back and stretching its paws. It has a regular and powerful flight.
Food habits it feeds on fish, amphibians, insects (both grubs and adults), especially from sunset to sunrise. It walks keeping its beak very near the water and swallow with a rapid neck and head movement the fishes from the head, in order to make them easily pass through the oesophagus. It can feed on amphibians, beetles, and molluscs; occasionally it eats small mammals, snakes and lizards.
Migration it winters in southern Europe, Africa, in the South of the Sahara, even if some of them can stay in the Nile Valley and Delta from the beginning of September until the end of April.
Nidification the nests are usually built in the beds of hurdles or among some plants typical of wet areas, generally at 0.5 -1 meter from the water; they can be built on trees too, at 25 meters from the ground. They are made of ditch reeds or of little branches. The eggs are light blue-green and white spotted. The purple herons usually lay 4-5 eggs that need from 25 to 30 days to open. Then, it takes the chicks from 45 to 50 days before they begin to fly. During the courtship they have more attractive feathers, especially on the neck. The pairs last at least for one season. Both parents take care of the chicks until they learn to fly. They build their nests in small colonies, generally made up of two or three pairs, or alone. In central Europe eggs are laid at the end of April, or at the beginning of May, while, in the South of Europe the laying of the eggs can have a delay of three weeks.
Status in the lagoon in Venice Lagoon they build their nests in soft water marshes, in fish farms (Dogà, Dragojesolo, Cornio Alto, Figheri), and in "B" reclaimed area.

Sources  
References Unione Europea - Direttiva Uccelli
Dizionario Virtuale di Ornitologia del Dipartimento di Zoologia dell'UniversitÓ di Coimbra
Riserva marina di Miramare - Trieste
Atlante degli Uccelli Nidificanti in Provincia di Venezia - a cura di M. Bon, G. Cherubini, M. Semenzato, E. Stival - Provincia di Venezia, Assessorato Caccia e Pesca.
Web References http://aves.ccg.pt/
Source of the photo http://perso.club-internet.fr/fdesjard/especes/gd_lacs/heron_pourpre.htm
Source of the call http://ledid.net/oiseaux/
Source of the video http://www.hbw.com/ibc/

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