Herons are wading birds in the Ardeidae family. Some are called egrets or bitterns instead of herons. Egrets are not a biologically distinct group from the herons, and tend to be named differently because they are mainly white and/or have decorative plumes, and while having the same build as the larger herons tend to be smaller.
Although herons resemble birds in some other families, such as the storks, ibises and spoonbills they differ from these in flying with their necks retracted, not outstretched. They are also one of the bird groups that have powder down.
Some members of this group nest colonially in trees, others, notably the bitterns, use reedbeds.