The male heron is a very elegant bird; its forehead, crown, and upper part of the neck, are white; the head is adorned with a pendent crest of long black feathers; beneath the covers of the wings it also has a fine black plumage. The female, however, is not so handsome; she builds her nest either in trees, or in high cliffs ever the sea, and forms it of sticks lined with wool: in the month of February, she deposits five or six large eggs of a pale green colour.
Herons were formerly much esteemed as a delicacy at the table, but their flesh has a strong taste of fish. They attain an age sometimes exceeding sixty years, and are very great devourers of fish, so that they occasion more mischief in a pond than otters. One heron will swallow fifty dace or roaches of a moderate size in a day; and it has been known to devour a thousand store-carp in a year.
When it is ascertained that one of these rapacious birds visits a fish-pond, he might be taken in a manner similar to that practised in catching pike. For this purpose, three or four small roach, or dace, are to be procured, and each should be fastened on a wire, with a strong hook at the end; the latter must be connected with the wire just below the gills, and passed immediately under the uppermost skin to the tail. Thus, the fish will be preserved alive for several days ; a precaution which is essentially necessary ; because, if dead, the heron will not attempt to bite. Next, a strong line, about two yards long is to be prepared of silk and wire twisted together, one end of which should be fastened to the wire con-ne6ted with the hook, and the other to a stone of about a pound weight: - three or four of such baits being placed in different shallow parts of the pond, it is very probable that the mischievous bird will be speedily taken by this stratagem.