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There are lots of herons and egrets around the world; about sixty species or so. They are capable of flying long distances and have established populations on many islands and all of the continents excepting Antarctica. In doing this they have developed (evolved) populations that are somewhat dissimilar from the original birds. For instance there are about thirty populations (sub-species) of what we usually call the Green Heron (also called Striated Heron). These populations probably could inter-breed if they had the opportunity; but on each island, in each separate location, they develop traits best suited to local survival.
The larger taxonomic group of long-legged wading birds will contain not only herons, egrets, but also night-herons, tiger-herons, and bitterns. The next taxonomic level will draw in other long-legged birds of the wetlands (mostly). Scattered around the world there are also flamingoes, storks, ibis’, shoebills, and hammerkop. All of these are recognizable as wetland or grassland birds but they are not all closely related. As a matter of fact the storks are genetically closest to New World vultures than they are to herons and egrets. There is a lot more to decipher here – genetics have not opened as many doors as it has created questions — pretty cool. Adaptation and environmental pressure have caused many crooked paths for evolution to follow.
Here are three of the four Night-Herons of the world – enjoy.