Reports of hybridization among herons are not uncommon but usually document interbreeding within genera and in captivity. An inter-generic hybrid pairing between a male Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) and a female Chinese Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchus) was video-recorded in a mixed-species heronry in Japan. In June 2010, nest-building behavior and copulation by the interspecific pair were observed. In August 2010, a juvenile possessing intermediate characteristics of the two species was fed by the female Chinese Pond Heron. These observations indicated that a fertile intergeneric hybridization occurred between the two species. The Chinese Pond Heron is an irregular visitor to Japan, but has been recorded more often in recent years. A rare species such as the Chinese Pond Heron might choose heterospecific mates rather than abandoning all chances of reproduction.
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Vol. 35 • No. 1