|Australian Bush Birds|
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|Striated Heron - Butorides striata|
|Striated Heron sheltering in the lower limbs of a mangrove tree during high tide at Urunga, NSW. The vertical white line on the throat is characteristic; usually with dusky spots in it. The dark streaked brown underside indicates a juvenile bird. The dark bill tip in the top photograph is shadow from the mangrove tree.|
The Striated Heron - Butorides striata - has short legs, a black crown and a very small crest. Commonly found in mangroves; during high tide the birds roost in lower mangrove branches waiting for low tide to forage over the tidal flats and among mangrove roots in search of fish, crabs, and other marine invertebrates. When foraging this heron adopts a hunched posture with head and neck drawn back into the body with the bill kept parallel to the ground. It stalks prey slowly, often standing and waiting for prey to emerge then stabbing with the sharp bill, or may plunge from a perch onto the prey. Grows to 42-46 cm long.
Inhabits mangroves, tidal waterways and nearby mudflats as well as exposed reefs and piles. In northern Australia lives in floodplain wetlands, swamp woodlands and freshwater lakes. Widespread in the Americas, Afro-Asia, New Guinea and Polynesia. The Australian distribution includes all of northern Australia extending down to Shark Bay on the west coast and as far south as Mallacoota on the east coast although number are very low south of Sydney.
|Striated Heron - page 2|
There are two subspecies in Australia, stagnatilis west of the Gulf of Carpentaria and macrorhynchus along the Queensland and east coast. Both subspecies have grey (or grey-green) and reddish-brown forms, often depending on the colour of the mud the birds live on. The grey form is widespread around the birds range, while the reddish form is more often found in the Pilbara. Juveniles have dark grey-brown upper parts with brown underside streaked black.
All versions have a black cap; the eye is yellow, adults have yellow skin around the eye and between eye and beak. The bill is black with yellow lower mandible. Legs and feet are brown or olive-grey. There is a white line with dusky spots down the throat. During courtship face and legs become red.
Striated Herons are solitary birds, roosting alone.
Nesting takes place from September to February/March. Solitary nests are built of sticks in the fork of a mangrove three to nine metres high. Three or four eggs are laid; chalky green-blue, oval, about 42 by 31 millimetres. Incubated for 21 to 25 days by both parents. Young fledge in four weeks. Two broods may be raised in a season.
¶ Genus Butorides, containing a single Australian member, is in Family Ardeidae with Herons, Bitterns, Egrets and Night-Herons. To maintain gender accuracy of the scientific name the specific name should be striata not striatus.
¶ English names include Little Green Heron, Mangrove Heron, Mangrove Bittern.