Striated Heron (Butorides striata)

Author: Bibitayo Ayobami Owolabi. Department of Wildlife and Ecotourism Management. Osun State University, Osogbo, Nigeria. bibitayo.owolabi@uniosun.edu.ng. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0136-6720

Description

The striated heron (Butorides striata) is a little heron that stands around 44 cm tall. It is also known as the mangrove heron, little heron, or green-backed heron. Striated herons are primarily non-migratory and have certain unique behavioral characteristics. Small wetlands in the Old World tropics, from west Africa to Japan and Australia, as well as in South America and the Caribbean, are where they reproduce.

Appearance

A small dark crown and upperparts, grey head-sides and underparts with greenish tinge to upperparts which is only feasible at close range.

Figure 1: Striated heron (Butorides striata) perched on a tree. (Photos: B. Owolabi).

Habitat and Breeding

Heavily vegetated margins of rivers, streams, lakes and ponds, mangroves and occasionally in flood plains. They nest in shrubs, bushes and trees overhanging near water bodies, in well-concealed locations. However, they occasionally nest over dry land. They nest in a platform of sticks measuring between 20–40 cm long and 0.5–5 mm thick. The entire nest measures some 40–50 cm wide and 8–10 cm high outside, with an inner depression 20 cm wide and 4–5 cm deep. It has a clutch size of 2–5 eggs, which are pale blue in colour.

Figure 2: Striated heron (Butorides striata) ready to fly from. (Photos: B. Owolabi).

Feeding ecology

They mainly eat small fish, frogs, crustaceans, earthworms, aquatic insects, etc. It feeds primarily by Standing in shallow water or next to the water. It feeds in a characteristic Crouched posture, with its body parallel to the water. The head is withdrawn or extended as it waits for long period between strikes. It also Stands on branches overhanging the water and stabs into the water, sometimes submerging itself. It walks slowly in very shallow water, along the shore, or along branches. It is so slow that its foot may be kept raised for 30 seconds between its consecutive steps.

References

Borrow, N. & Demey, R. (2010) Birds of Western Africa. Christopher Helm, London.