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Striated or Little Heron: baiting, hunting and catching fish in the main lake at Singapore's Japanese Garden

The Striated or Little Heron (Butorides striatus), is the smallest of the herons found in the Japanese Gardens being only about 40 cm high.

They hunt by standing at the water's edge or perched on rocks with the neck retracted just waiting for fish to come within striking distance. As with the purple and grey herons, they stab large fish usually with the lower mandible or grab smaller ones between both upper and lower mandibles.

Striated heron baiting the water with bread and successfully capturing fish

The herons in the gardens have adopted a hunting trick where they use bread as bait to lure fish to the water's edge at their preferred fishing position. They fly into the water to pickup bread, often thrown into feed the fish, which they then bring back to the bank/rocks where they place it in the water and wait for the fish to take the bait.

The sequence of images in the gallery on the right shows this behaviour.

Striated heron successfully dives and spears a very large fish

The image gallery on the left shows the striated heron diving into the water from its hunting position on the rocks, stabbing a very large fish and returning to the bank to eat its prize. It disappeared into the undergrowth so I wasn't able to see how it managed to eat the large fish.

When fishing the Striated Heron faces mugging by both Myna Birds and Monitor Lizards

A couple of Indian Myna birds (Acridotheres tristis), were intent on robbing the heron of its bait. It left about half on the rocks, which one Myna bird stole while it was placing the other piece of bait in the water. It got aggressive and chased the Mynas off.

The baiting worked and the heron grabbed a good-sized fish that was nibbling the bread. It took its prize up the bank onto the grass at the top but monitor lizards stole its fish.

The Mynas also tried to get in on the mugging but failed.

Striated or Little Heron (Butorides striatus): baiting the water and successfully catching fish

The last gallery shows the heron baiting the water with bread and successfully catching fish.

Little heron perched on rocks waiting for fish to come within striking distance. Striated or little heron (Butorides striatus) perched in a tree.