Torpidity as a factor in Speckled Mousebird predation by Black-headed Heron

  • Ian-Malcolm Rijsdijk
  • Barry Greenwood


The Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala is well known as an opportunistic predator with a very catholic diet (Stuart and Dürk 1984). Less reliant on wetland habitats than other large herons, one is as likely to find the bird in agricultural land or short grassland as in marshland or recently flooded areas. One of the most horrifying experiences of my birding youth was witnessing a Grey Heron Ardea cinerea gobble up a lone duckling that had obviously become detached from its siblings. The Grey Heron became Felonious Heronious in our house and, for a long time, I viewed them as villains, in spite of their elegance.


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