Birds of the Bible – Name Study – Heron

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Watching young nearby by Lee at Viera Wetlands

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Watching young nearby by Lee at Viera Wetlands

Let’s look into a name study for another Bird of the Bible – this time the Heron. Our fishing Green Heron directed my thinking towards the Heron. So, let’s see what we can find out about how they are mentioned in Scripture.

The Heron and their kind are mentioned in Leviticus and Deuteronomy in the list of “Unclean Birds” or the “Do not eat” list.

And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. (Leviticus 11:19 KJV)

And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. (Deuteronomy 14:18 KJV)

Those are the only two references to Herons in the King James Version. But how do other versions translate this bird? That is what these name study articles do. Dig around in the Word. I use e-Sword’ s compare mode to see the different versions.

Brenton, as does the APB, DRB, ISV, and NET  has the Heron in Psalms:

There the sparrows will build their nests; and the house of the heron takes the lead among them. Psalms 104:17 Brenton)

The Bishops and CJB only use Heron in Deuteronomy, but not Leviticus.

The Phillips does not even use the word “Heron.”

Here is the Hebrew word used in these verses:

H601
אנפה
‘ănâphâh
an-aw-faw’
From H599; an unclean bird, perhaps the parrot (from its irascibility): – heron.

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The DRB also uses Heron in Job:

The wing of the ostrich is like the wings of the heron, and of the hawk. (Job 39:13 DRB)

The GW shows Heron in these verses:

“It will become the possession of herons. It will become pools of water. I’ll sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the LORD of Armies. (Isaiah 14:23 GW)

Pelicans and herons will take possession of the land. Owls and crows will live there. He will stretch the measuring line of chaos and the plumb line of destruction over it. (Isaiah 34:11 GW)

Flocks will lie down in it along with animals of every kind. Even pelicans and herons will nest on top of its columns. Listen! A bird will sing in a window. The doorway will be in ruins, because the LORD will expose the cedar beams. (Zephaniah 2:14 GW)

Isaiah 14:23 uses H7090 which is:

H7090
קפּד קפּוד
qippôd qippôd
kip-pode’, kip-pode’
From H7088; a species of bird, perhaps the bittern (from its contracted form): – bittern.

Isaiah 34:11 GW and Zephaniah 2:14 GW both use the same H7090. The word is translated as “Bittern” in the KJV for all three verses. The Ardeidae- Herons, Bitterns Family consists of Heron, Egrets and Bitterns so, there doesn’t seem to be a problem there, especially since the first two verses said, “heron after her kind.” They are related.

The DRB’s (1899 Douay-Rheims Bible) translation, to me, does not seem to match the rest of the other translations.

Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius) by Lee at LPZoo

Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius) by Lee at LPZoo

Herons:

The herons are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds in the family Ardeidae, with 72 recognised species (some are called “egrets” or “bitterns” instead of “heron”). Within Ardeidae, all members of the genera Botaurus and Ixobrychus are referred to as “bitterns”, and — including the Zigzag Heron or Zigzag Bittern — are a monophyletic group within the Ardeidae. However, egrets are not a biologically distinct group from the herons, and tend to be named differently because they are mainly white and/or have decorative plumes. Although egrets have the same build as herons, they tend to be smaller.

The classification of the individual heron/egret species is fraught with difficulty, and there is still no clear consensus about the correct placement of many species into either of the two major genera, Ardea and Egretta. One species formerly considered to constitute a separate monotypic family Cochlearidae, the Boat-billed Heron, is now regarded as a member of the Ardeidae.

Although herons resemble birds in some other families, such as the storks, ibises, spoonbills and cranes, they differ from these in flying with their necks retracted, not outstretched. They are also one of the bird groups that have powder down. Some members of this group nest colonially in trees, while others, notably the bitterns, use reedbeds.

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) by W Kwong

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) by W Kwong

The herons are a widespread family, they exist on all continents except Antarctica, and are present in most habitats except the coldest extremes of the Arctic, extremely high mountains and the driest deserts. Almost all species are associated with water, they are essentially non-swimming waterbirds that feed on the margins of lakes, rivers, swamps, ponds and the sea. They are predominately found in lowland areas, although some species live in alpine areas, and the majority of species occur in the tropics.

The herons are a highly mobile family, with most species being at least partially migratory. Birds are particularly inclined to disperse widely after breeding but before the annual migration where the species is colonial, searching out new feeding areas and reducing the pressures on feeding grounds near the colony. The migration typically occurs at night, usually as individuals or in small groups.

The herons and bitterns are carnivorous. The members of this family are mostly associated with wetlands and water, and feed on a variety of live aquatic prey. The diet includes a wide variety of aquatic animals, including fish, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic insects. Individual species may be generalists or specialise in certain prey types, like the Yellow-crowned Night Heron, which specialises in crustaceans, particularly crabs. Many species will also opportunistically take larger prey, including birds and bird eggs, rodents, and more rarely carrion. Even more rarely there have been reports of herons eating acorns, peas and grains, but most vegetable matter consumed is accidental.

The most common hunting technique is for the bird to sit motionless on the edge of or standing in shallow water and wait until prey comes within range. (Birds of the Bible – Patient Herons) Birds may either do this from an upright posture, giving them a wider field of view for seeing prey, or from a crouched position, which is more cryptic and means the bill is closer to the prey when it is located. Having seen prey the head is moved from side to side, so that the heron can calculate the position of the prey in the water and compensate for refraction, and then the bill is used to spear the prey.

Reddish Egret scarring up breakfast

Reddish Egret scarring up breakfast

In addition to sitting and waiting, herons may feed more actively. They may walk slowly, at around or less than 60 paces a minute, snatching prey when it is observed. Other active feeding behaviours include foot stirring and probing, where the feet are used to flush out hidden prey. The wings may be used to frighten prey (or possibly attract it to shade) or to reduce glare; the most extreme example of this is exhibited by the Black Heron, which forms a full canopy with its wings over its body.

Some species of heron, such as the Little Egret and Grey Heron, have been documented using bait in order to lure prey to within striking distance. Herons may use items already in place, or actively add items to the water in order to attract fish. Items used may be man-made, such as bread; alternatively Striated Herons in the Amazon have been watched repeatedly dropping seeds, insects, flowers and leaves into the water to catch fish. (Green Heron Fishing With Bread)

(Heron information from Wikipedia with editing)

Names of Birds Study

Birds of the Bible – Herons

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Birds of the Bible – Patient Herons

Tricolored Heron at Vierra Wetlands, Vierra, FL

Tricolored Heron at Vierra Wetlands, Vierra, FL

I watch Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons and Green Herons which are quite common in our area. They are all in the same family and all seem to have a characteristic of being very patient. Have you just sat and watched them? When you are out birdwatching it is a habit of those in the Ardeidae – Herons, Bitterns Family to stand very still and wait for some food to swim by or to lean over and strike a pose. They freeze other than a side-to-side movement of their neck.

Herons are mentioned twice in the Bible, and only in a list of unclean birds to not eat. Leviticus 11:19 and Deuteronomy 14:18.

the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat. (Leviticus 11:19 NKJV)

the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe and the bat. (Deuteronomy 14:18 NKJV)

Here is a video of a Great Egret at Lake Parker looking for something in a tree. I strung three short videos together. Taken back in 2008.

The Herons are so patient it reminds me that I need to be more patient. So, here are some of the verses in Scripture that tell us to be patient or to wait:

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. (Psalms 37:7 NKJV)

…I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. (Psalms 40:1 NKJV)

The end of a thing is better than its beginning; The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (Ecclesiastes 7:8 NKJV)

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, (2 Timothy 2:24 NKJV)

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) ©WikiC

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) ©WikiC

Here’s a good one for us and the heron when he catches his fish:

And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. (Hebrews 6:15 NKJV)

And then one of my favorite passages that has to with waiting, even though the Eagle is mentioned instead of the Heron.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 NKJV)

Other links:

Birds of the Bible 

Birds of the Bible – Herons

Ardeidae – Herons, Bitterns Family

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Herons – Color Key to North American Birds, by Frank M. Chapman

Herons

Color Key to North American Birds, by Frank M. Chapman, 2011

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Ardeidae – Herons, Bitterns, Egrets Family

Herons

the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat. (Leviticus 11:19 ESV)

All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:3 NKJV)

Color Key To North American Birds cover

Bird Images pg_092192. Great White Heron (Ardea occidentalis). Ads. White, no “aigrette” plumes. A white Heron about the size of a Great Blue Heron. What is supposed to be a gray-blue phase of this bird has been called, a bird which resembles No. 194, but has the head and neck whitish.Range.—Southern Florida, Cuba and Jamaica.

196. American Egret (Herodias egretta). L. 41. Ads. White, about 50 straight “aigrette” plumes grow from the back between the wings; legs and feet black. Ads. when not breeding and Yng., the same, but no plumes.Range.—Tropical and temperate America; breeds north to Virginia, southern Illinois, and California; later strays to New Brunswick, Minnesota, and Oregon; winters from southern California and Gulf States southward.

197. Snowy Heron (Egretta candidissima). L. 24. Ads. White, about 50 recurved “aigrette” plumes grow from back between the wings; legs black, feet yellow. Ads. when not breeding and Yng. The same, but no plumes.Range.—Tropical and temperate America; bred formerly north to Long Island, southern Illinois and California; now very rare in eastern North America; winters from Gulf States and southern California southward.

194. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias). L. 45; W. 18.5; B. 5.5; Tar. 7. Ads. Center of crown white, head crested; legs blackish. Yng. Similar, but no crest, crown wholly black, plumage more streaked.Range—Northern South America north to Arctic regions; breeds locally throughout most of North America range; winters from about latitude 42° southward.

194a. Northwest Coast Heron (A. h. fannini). Similar to No. 194 but much darker; upperparts bluish slate black; tarsus shorter, 5.3.Range.—Pacific coast from Vancouver to Sitka.

194b. Ward Heron (A. h. wardi). Similar to No. 194 but whiter below, neck darker; legs olive; larger, L. 52; W. 20; B. 6.5; Tar. 8.Range.—Florida; coast of Texas.

202. Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax nævius). L. 24. Ads. Crown and back greenish black lower back, wings and tail ashy; head with two or three rounded white plumes, except just after breeding season. Yng. Grayish brown streaked with white; below white streaked with blackish; outer webs of primaries, pale rufousNotes. An explosiveqûawk.Range.—Western hemisphere; breeds in North America north to New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba, and Oregon; winters from California and Gulf States southward.

203. Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violaceus). L. 23. Ads. Blue-gray; crown and ear-coverts whitish, rest of head black; scapulars streaked with black; head with two or three rounded, white plumes, except just after nesting season.Yng. Crown black, streaked with whitish; primaries bluish slate, no rufous; back brownish streaked with white; below whitish streaked with blackish.

Range.—Tropical and subtropical America; breeds north to South Carolina, southern Illinois, and Lower California; strays to Massachusetts and Colorado; winters from Gulf States southward.

198. Reddish Egret (Dichromanassa rufescens). L. 29. Two color phases independent of age. Ads. Dark phase, Head and neck rufous; back slate; about 30 “aigrette” plumes. White phase. White, including plumes; tips of primaries sometimes speckled with gray. Yng. Rufous and gray, or white, without plumes.Range.—West Indies and Central America north to coasts of Gulf States, Illinois (rarely), and Lower California.

199. Louisiana Heron (Hydranassa tricolor ruficollis). L. 26. Ads. “Aigrette” plumes, short, dirty gray; rump and belly white; legs blackish. Yng. Head and neck brownish; throat and line down foreneck white; above slaty washed with brownish, rump, and belly white.Range.—West Indies and Central America north to Gulf States, casually to Long Island and Indiana.

200. Little Blue Heron (Florida cœrulea). L. 22. Ads. Head and neck maroon; rest of plumage slaty blue. Yng. White, tips of primaries bluish, legs greenish yellow.Range.—Tropical America and eastern United States; breeds north to Virginia and Illinois, later may stray north as far as Nova Scotia; winters from South Atlantic and Gulf States southward.

201. Little Green Heron (Butorides virescens). L. 17. Smallest of our Herons. Ads. Crown, glossy green-black; throat and line down foreneck buffy; rest of head and neck purplish chestnut; back green washed with bluish gray. Yng. Neck and below streaked with blackish; back-feathers not lengthened; duller. Notes. A rattling oc-oc-oc-oc-oc, a startling scow, and, more rarely, a deep, hollow groan. (Brewster.)Range.—Tropical and temperate North America; breeds from Gulf States north to Nova Scotia and Manitoba; winters from Gulf States southward to northern South America.

201a. Frazar Green Heron (B. v. frazari). Similar to No. 201, but rather larger and darker, neck more purplish, light stripings on throat and foreneck more restricted. (Brewster.)

201b. Anthony Green Heron (B. v. anthonyi). Similar to No. 201, but slightly larger, and paler, light markings of wings, neck, and throat less restricted and whiter. (Mearns.)

Range.—Arid portions of southwestern United States, south into Mexico.


Green Heron – From Color Key

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Nuggets Plus – Herons – Patiently Waiting

Heron Waiting For Lunch by Lee at Viera Wetlands

Heron Waiting For Lunch by Lee at Viera Wetlands

Nuggets Plus – Herons – Patiently Waiting ~ by Lee

Nuggets Plus

Nuggets Plus

The Heron family
Has very patient members.
They wait very still with
Their head and neck
Poised for action.
Then at the right time,
They grab their opportunity..

Are we as patient
As the Herons
Or do we run ahead of the Lord?

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
(Psalms 27:14 KJV)

For more Nuggets Plus – Click Here

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First Family Page Completed – Ardeidae

Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana) by Ian

Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana) by Ian

I just completed the first Birds of the World Family page. Well, at least as far as I can find photos for it. I now only have 223 more family pages to go.

Check it out at Family – Ardeidae It is part of the PELECANIFORMES Order. At least according to the latest IOC 2.1 version. I hope you enjoy the photos of the different Bitterns, Egrets and Herons.

Update: 08/09/09

Finished the Family – Struthionidae (Ostriches) page today. It is in the Order – STRUTHIONIFORMES Now at 2 down and 222 to go. Plus 37 partial ones – no photos yet.

Updated: 08/13/09

I finished all 229 (I found some birds that had flown from my original lists)  Bird Family pages as far as the list of each species within the families. Now I am going to make some  indexes to help find the different birds in either taxonomic or alphabetical order. Then I will be adding various photos to each family.

Birds of the Bible – Herons


CLASS – AVES, Order – PELECANIFORMES, Family – Ardeidae – Herons, Bitterns


Here in central Florida we can see many Herons, such as the:
(Click link for photo)
Great Blue Heron (L46″ Wingspan72″)
Little Blue Heron (L24 Wingspan 40″)
Tri-colored Heron (L26 Wingspan 36″)
Green Heron (L18″ Wingspan 26)
Black-crowned Night Heron (L25″ Wingspan 26″)
Yellow-crowned Night Heron (L24″ Wingspan 42″)

Around the World the Ardeidae family includes Herons(41), Egrets(7) and Bitterns(12). From Thayer Birding Software, “Most herons nest in dense or dispersed colonies; a few species, including most bitterns, are solitary. Nests are platforms of interlocked sticks in trees or piles of vegetation in reeds or on the ground, built mainly or entirely by the female of material brought by the male.” Most of the Herons rest and fly with their necks in an “S” curve. They can be seen along or in the edges of water fishing. Many stand perfectly still looking in the water and then thrust with a quick movement to either spear or catch their prey. Herons amaze me in how perfectly still they stand and wait. They seem so patient to me. Herons are on the “unclean” list of birds found in Leviticus 11:19 and Deuteronomy 14:18. Because they are so “patient” and “wait,” it reminds me of:

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. (Psalms 37:7 KJV)
And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. (Hebrews 6:15 KJV)
The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season (Psalms 145:15 KJV
And of course our great verse from last week:
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 KJV)

Hymns mention “waiting” and being “still” and “patient. Here is a favorite:

Be Still, My Soul by Katharina von Schlegel,
1697-Trans. By Jane L. Borthwick, 1813-1897

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev’ry change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

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Updated 1/20/2015