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Herons room freshwater and coastal birds belonging to the family members Ardeidae, while storks space wading birds that belong come the family members Ciconiidae.Heron and stork populations are well-distributed across the world, v the exemption of the Arctic areas where living conditions are extreme. In Singapore, over there is an overlap of migratory and also residential populaces belonging come the different varieties of both families. Members of the Ardeidae family in Singapore space considerably much more diverse than those the the Ciconiidae family discovered here. As well as the distinctly-coloured Grey and also Purple Herons, the acquainted white egrets populating our canals and also open fields also fall under the same heron family. A much more elusive member the the family members — the bitterns — would certainly hunt because that food around the tall reeds that surround ponds.Birds belonging come both these family members are characterised by similar physical functions such as lengthy necks, bills and also legs. Lock are additionally much bigger than the commonly-seen garden birds. Perform not bother listening the end for your calls for these birds are mostly silent uneven alarmed. Being carnivorous, they feeding on a plethora of pets including fish, crustaceans, reptiles and rodents.Given the morphological similarities between storks and herons, that is understandably daunting to distinguish between them. However, your bills, plumages, flight stances and habitats might just offer you a proviso on their identity!Storks vs Herons: comparison of invoice Sizes

Asian Openbill Stork (Anastomus oscitans)Photo credit: Tan Rui Siang

(Left to Right): little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) and Intermediate Egret (Egretta intermedia)Photo credit: Tan Rui Siang
Storks often tend to have actually much bigger bills contrasted to members the the heron family. Storks’ receipt are additionally thicker and stouter and also tend come curve increase or down near the tip. Meanwhile, herons tend to have smaller, dagger-shaped bills that taper near the tip.Not surprisingly, the bill forms of these birds are adjusted to match their diet! because that example, storks like the asian Openbill Stork have actually bills that keep a void when closed, do it simpler for them to extract their favourite meal, the gold apple snail, from your shells. In comparison, herons and also bitterns use their bills as spears—rapidly striking fish swimming by.

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Bitterns: masters of Camouflage
Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis)Photo credit: Bok Wen XuanWhile birds from both families can be found near freshwater and seaside environments, storks are much more likely to be found nesting ~ above trees and feeding open minded in fields and marshes. This is likewise true for most herons and also egrets that the Ardeidae family.Bitterns, however, choose to save a short profile through hiding among reed beds that are found in well-vegetated water bodies. Once alarmed, they embrace a “bittern-stance” by extending their neck and head skywards. This helps them acquire a much better sense of potential threats lurking in the sky and in former of them, while maintaining them well-camouflaged among tall reeds. Staying well-hidden in reeds also permit them to ambush prey an ext easily.Foraging Behaviour: Passive Herons, energetic Storks
Milky Stork (Mycteria cinerea)Photo credit: Melvin Yap under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)Photo credit: Bok Wen XuanIf you ever before get a chance to capture these large wading birds in the plot of predation, you may notification the distinctions in the means they forage for food.Storks space relatively much more active hunters than herons. Milky Storks (Mycteria cinerea), among the three varieties of storks it was observed in Singapore, adopt the groping method as they hunting for their prey. Lock wade with shallow waters through their open bills submerged in ~ the water surface, groping for fishes and frogs. The bills then snap shut as soon as unfortunate prey makes call with it, and also the stork’s meal is then tossed into its mouth v a flick of its head!Meanwhile, herons usually resolve motionlessly along the water’s edge because that a lengthy time together they wait for an opportune moment to to win unsuspecting fish v their dagger-like bills. Eastern cattle Egrets (Bubulcus coromandus) are additionally opportunistic predators and also are recognized to dwell near grazing ruminants who might flush out insects for them come snag.Necks in Flight: The identify Factor
Asian Openbill Stork (Anastomus oscitans)Photo credit: Jayasri
Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis)Photo credit: Francis Yap
Intermediate Egret (Egretta intermedia)Photo credit: Tan Rui SiangAre the subtle morphological differences between herons and also storks still befuddling you? The surest means to tell storks apart from herons and their counterparts is indigenous their flight stances.Storks fly through their necks totally extended, if herons constantly retract your necks into a characteristic “S” shape while in flight. However, the retracted “S” shaped neck is an ext pronounced and also noticeable in bigger heron types than those of bitterns and smaller herons favor the Striated Heron (Butorides striata) and also Pond Herons (Ardeola sp.). These types tend to possess fluffy neck feathers the conceal their necks!List of species observed in Singapore






Black-crowned Night Heron

Chinese Egret

Black Bittern

Asian Openbill Stork

Chinese Pond Heron

Eastern cattle Egret

Cinnamon Bittern

Milky Stork

Great-billed Heron

Great Egret

Von Schrenck’s Bittern

Painted Stork

Grey Heron

Intermediate Egret

Yellow Bittern

Indian Pond Heron

Little Egret

Javan Pond Heron

Pacific Reef heron

Malayan Night Heron

Purple Heron

Striated Heron

For much more informationWant come learn much more about herons, egrets and bitterns? throughout this continue to be at home period, you deserve to do so also without leaving her house! Learn more through our interaction e-learning module, available via Chrome, to apologize Safari or Mozilla Firefox web browser on desktops or laptops.For an ext information about the flora and also fauna discovered in Singapore, you re welcome visit Flora and Fauna Web.

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Text through Ling Chyuan Liang BenedictAbout the writerBenedict Ling is a final year Life scientific researches undergraduate indigenous the national University that Singapore. That is at this time undergoing a 6-month internship v because that his final Year Internship project. While gift attached to the Biodiversity Information and also Policy branch in the national Biodiversity Centre, he helped with the organization of Heron Watch and the Biodiversity main for schools programme. His enthusiasm for ecological fieldwork and also interest in dispersing the word about our local biodiversity led the to choose together his organisation of an option for his internship.