Heron refers to long legged birds of the family Ardeidae, comprising 24 genera and 64 species distributed world-wide, and bound almost exclusively to fresh water habitats. Herons are further distinguished from other water birds by a dagger-like beak and a kink in their necks - a "trigger" as it were - by which they use to spear fish and other aquatic animals when they search for food in shallow waters.
Herons are rather crane-like in appearance, standing on tall legs, and bearing a long neck, short tail, and large wide wings. The neck is bent in an S-shape, as a result of an elongated sixth cervical vertebra; this kink in the neck has powerful muscles attached to it, enabling the bird to quickly and effectively spear its prey. In flight herons, unlike cranes, have their heads and necks curved back very conspicuously, giving the appearance of a short-necked bird.