Herons, egrets and bitterns are supreme hunters of fish and other small aquatic prey. Their long necks and strong beaks are capable of delivering a quick, powerful and quite deadly lunge. The preferred method of hunting is to wait patiently at the water's edge or stand in shallow water waiting for prey to come into range, although some take a more active approach, kicking around in the water. In shallow water, their long legs give these birds a considerable advantage over their prey. This is a globally distributed family of wading water birds that breeds on every continent except Antarctica.

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