Indian Pond Heron
Sexes alike. A small heron, commonest of family in India; thick-set and earthybrown in colour, with dull green legs; bill bluish at base, yellowish at centre with black tip; neck and legs shorter than in true egrets. Difficult to sight when settled; suddenly springs to notice with a flash of white wings, tail and rump. Breeding: buffy-brown head and neck; white chin and upper throat, longish crest; rich maroon back; buff-brown breast. Non-breeding: streaked dark brown head and neck; grey-brown back and shoulders; more white in plumage. Found around water, even dirty roadside puddles; ubiquitous in the plains; found in hills up to 1,200m; remains motionless in mud or up to ankles in water, or slowly stalks prey. Hunts alone; roosts in groups with other pond herons and occasionally crows.