Today we're adding a big bird to Birdorable. This bird is so big, it has a big word that means big in its name: it's the Goliath Heron! This massive wader is the world's largest species of heron!

The Goliath Heron is a massive bird, standing up to 5 feet tall with a wingspan that can exceed 7 feet in length! Besides its massive size, this bird has a striking, beautiful plumage.  The body has slate-gray feathers; the chest and belly are chestnut-colored, and streaky black stripes along the long neck are distinctive.

Most Goliath Herons are found in wetland habitats in sub-Saharan Africa, though its range extends to parts of Southwest and South Asia. The Goliath Heron is an expert fisher, and indeed its diet mainly consists of fish, but it also consumes amphibians, small mammals, and other small animals.

Goliath Heron (Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0 Deed, copyright © Bernard DUPONT)

Cute Goliath Heron gifts

Guess tomorrow's bird ...

Get ready for a delightful new addition to our Birdorable family, known for its distinctive and stylish 'hairdo'! Native to Australia, this charming bird is as fashionable as it is fascinating, sporting a unique crest that's always on-trend. Not only is its appearance chic, but its wings make a distinctive whistling sound when it takes to the skies. Can you guess which avian trendsetter is joining our flock? Keep an eye out for tomorrow's reveal of this crested beauty! 

Little Blue Heron

Today we add a small wader to Birdorable: the Little Blue Heron!

Little Blue Herons are New World wading birds with a wide distribution covering parts of North and South America. They are found near wetland habitats, where they feed, roost, and breed. Some birds are year-round residents (especially in South America) while some birds in North America migrate to breed further north.

Little Blue Herons are named for the plum and blue plumage of adult birds. For the first year of life, Little Blue Herons aren't blue at all -- they are white! This gives the young birds an advantage when hunting among Snowy Egrets, who are more likely to tolerate a bird, all white like them, hunting in close proximity.

Little Blue Heron Photo

Tomorrow we'll add another wading bird to Birdorable. Our illustration will feature the female of the species! This bird is named for a famous ornithologist. Can you guess the bird based on these clues?

Birdorable Bonanza preview #7

Cute Little Blue Heron Gifts

Birdorable Tricolored Heron

Today we introduce a New World species of waterbird. Meet the Birdorable Tricolored Heron!

The Tricolored Heron is a mid-sized type of heron named for its plumage of blue-grey, lavender, and white. They can be recognized especially by their white bellies and neck stripe, unique among dark herons or egrets.

Tricolored Herons range across coastal and freshwater habitat around the southeastern United States, as well as Central and far northern South America. They can also be found in the Caribbean. Tricolored Herons feed primarily on fish. Their hunting style ranges from slow methodical lethal bill stabs from a hunched position to comically running and chasing prey in shallow water.

Through bird banding data, we know that the oldest recorded Tricolored Heron lived to be at least 17 years and 8 months of age. Bird banding science has been around for a long time -- that particular bird was banded in 1958!

Tricolored Heron

Tomorrow’s new species is an endemic and endangered bird of prey from the island of Java. The species is the national bird of its country. Do you know this one?

Cute Tricolored Heron Gifts

Birdorable Boat-billed Heron

Boat-billed Herons are medium-sized herons found in parts of Central and South America. They live in mangrove forests and feed on a wide variety of food items, including tidal fare like shrimp, insects, and fish.

The Boat-billed Heron is named for its large and wide scoop-like bill. The top of the bill resembles the underside of a boat. The species is also known simply as the Boatbill.

Boat-billed Herons are known for their courtship rituals. Pair-bonding displays include mock fighting, head crest raising and lowering, and bill duels.

Boat-billed Heron
Photo by Amir Matityahu (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius)
Photo by Bernard DUPONT (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tomorrow's bird is a wildly plumaged chicken-sized bird endemic to Borneo. Males have bright blue facial wattles. Can you guess what it is?

Cute Boat-billed Heron Gifts

If you think our Birdorable birds are cute as adults, what about when they are babies? Below are some baby photos of the Black-crowned Night-Heron. Black-crowned Night-Herons are colonial nesters, building their nests in trees in close proximity to other herons, egrets, and ibises. Incubation takes about 25 days and the chicks leave the nest at about 30 days of age.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Photo by Andy Morffew (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Lake Martin-7636 Black crowned night heron

Photo by Michael McCarthy (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Black-crowned Night Herons feeding chicks

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (CC BY 2.0)

Black-crowned night heron nest

Photo by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Black-crowned Night Heron Chicks

Photo by Mike's Birds (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Stately Black-crowned Night Heron chick

Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (CC BY 2.0)

Black-crowned Night Heron - Juvenile

Photo by Ingrid Taylar photography (CC BY 2.0)

We’re adding new birds each day until we reach our 500th Birdorable species! Today’s Bonanza bird is species #498 overall: the Least Bittern.

Least Bittern

Least Bitterns are very small herons found in freshwater or brackish wetland-type habitats in the Americas. They are the smallest species of heron found within their range.

Least Bittern comes out to play
Least Bittern by Maureen Leong-Kee (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Least Bitterns are usually found in reed beds, sometimes over rather deep water. They can hunt for small prey like fish, frogs, and insects in water that is too deep for wading birds to enter. They perch on or straddle reeds and look down for prey. If they see something tasty, they stab into the water with their long, pointed beaks.

Least Bittern merchandise

Tune in tomorrow to see #499! Wednesday we will reveal our 500th Birdorable!

Many countries have an official national bird. For example, the national bird of Belize is the Keel-billed Toucan, and the national bird of New Zealand is the Kiwi. All U.S. states also have official birds. But did you know that there are even some cities that have their own official bird? The official city bird of Seattle, Washington, is the Great Blue Heron. For a bustling oceanside metropolis known for its seafood, a fish-eating bird is a great choice for an official city bird. Of course, herons take other prey, including frogs, turtles, and even small mammals! Seattle is also known for its weather - lots of rain. A big blue-grey bird fits in there just fine! You can read more about the Great Blue Heron at the Seattle Audubon Society.


Birdorable Great Blue Heron with the flag of Seattle

We have two new Birdorable coloring pages for anyone who loves to color! They are: the Great Blue Heron (which can also be colored as a Grey Heron) and the endangered Hyacinth Macaw, a beautiful parrot from central South America. Go to Coloring Pages to download these two new PDFs and check the Meet the Birds page to check the colors.

Birdorable Herron and Macaw Coloring Pages

These downloads will be available until 31 March 2010. Check here for more coloring pages. Subscribe to the Birdorable Blog by RSS feed or by email to get notified when new downloads like this are added.

Cute Big Cranky

Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron is our 227th cute Birdorable and the answer to yesterday's Spot the Birdorable. If you live in North America you've probably seen these around near water as they are quite common. It has several nicknames, including Big Cranky, Blue Crane, Long John and Poor Joe. Did you know that all Herons have two or more patches of powder-down feathers on their breasts? The feathers break up into a fine power when crushed. The birds apply this powder to areas of blood, mud or slime to absorb the mess. Once it has clumped up they can just scrape it off with their feet. They also sprinkle the powder on fish that they just caught to more easily clean off the slime and oil before eating it.

Twilight
Photo by Gary Woodburn (via Flickr)

If you like this bird see our other egrets and waders. We've also added the grey equivalent of this bird: the Grey Heron, which can be found across temperate Europe, Asia and parts of Africa.