The Difference Between Heron and Crane
While similar in appearance with a grayish color, long legs, and a long neck, there are some distinguishing differences between difference between crane and heron. Herons are often found in wetlands such as lakes, ponds and marshes, whereas cranes typically reside in wide open spaces and are more recognizable when flying in groups.
While both birds are in the Ardeidae family of waterbirds, herons and cranes have diverged from their common ancestors through distinct evolutionary paths. As a result, they have evolved into the beautiful creatures we see today.
Feathers and Beaks: Unraveling the Differences Between Cranes and Herons
Cranes are known for their spectacular migrations across the country each spring and fall, when they gather in flocks to find food. They are also known for their rumbles, “cranks” and clattering calls that accompany courtship dances. Herons, on the other hand, are solitary birds that prefer to hunt and fly alone. Herons tend to perch and nest in trees as well as wetlands, marshes, riverbanks, grasslands and even backyard ponds.
When trying to figure out the difference between a heron and a crane, the most important characteristic is their necks. Herons have shorter necks that they hold erect, especially when in flight. When a heron is flying, it curves its neck into an “S” shape and pulls it backward, a trait that’s easy to see with binoculars or the naked eye.
The size and shape of the bird’s bill can also help. Herons have longer, dagger-like bills designed for spearing fish, their primary prey. Cranes, on the other hand, have a more varied diet and possess shorter bills that are better suited for consuming plant matter as well as animal meat.