Herons multiply once a year. In the temperate zone, the breeding season occurs in April-May. A number of species (the most famous of which is a large white heron) in the mating season grow long feathers on their back, these ornaments are called egregates. In addition, they change the color of the beak and skin near the eyes. Herons are monogamous birds, but the pair remains only one season. During the courtship courts, the male crackles with its beak, squats, reveals a pappus and eagrets. The attracted female approaches him, but can be … expelled if she did it too hastily. Only by showing patience, it is accepted by the male.
Birds jointly build a nest, and the male mostly collects the material, and the female puts it. Nests of herons are arranged most often on trees, closer to neighbors, less often in dense thickets of reeds. Often they form mixed colonies with other species of birds – cormorants, ibis, but at the same time they try to equip their nests higher than others. The nests of these birds are loose large heaps of branches up to 1 m in diameter and 60 cm in height. The female lays 2-7 white or greenish-blue eggs and starts to incubate them immediately. For this reason, chicks hatch not at the same time, the latter lag behind in development from the first.
Enemies of herons in the air are predatory day birds – falcons, lunis, kites, hawks, eagles, crocodiles prey on them in reservoirs. Nests are often ravaged by crows, wild cats, martens. Despite this, herons are quite large birds and, for the most part, do not represent rarities. However, such well-being did not always last. Earlier, the heron was hunted for the elegant eagrets, which were used to decorate hats. In the XIX century, 1.5-2 million birds were killed annually in Europe and North America!
Therefore, a number of species, such as the large white, yellow-billed heron and others, were almost completely destroyed. When the feathers fashion passed the herons regained their numbers, but not for all species, this process was successful. For example, the yellow-billed heron living in China, Korea, is on the verge of extinction, once destroyed, it has never been able to restore its population due to competition with a more massive species – a small white heron. In the same menacing situation, the Madagascar heron.