Tales of the Maakana

Jul, 28 2019

One of our most recognisable birds, Maakana or Grey Heron is often portrayed in Maldivian folklore as a stubborn and cheeky trickster. They can be easily be spotted walking around the island or standing as still as a statue at the water’s edge, hunting for small fishes.

Maakana with its outstretched neck, grey above plumage, whitish below, and strong pink-yellow bill is 84 – 102 cm in length. Despite their size, they are surprisingly light, weighing on average 1 – 2.1 kg. Their average lifespan is around 15 years in the wild. They catch their prey by using different hunting techniques: they can wait at one spot for a long time for prey to come within striking distance; they can walk carefully through shallow water before ambushing prey, or they just drop into the water from the air. 

Maakanas are excellent flyers that can reach up to speeds of 30 miles per hour. During flight, their neck is curled in S-shape, while legs dangle behind the body. Maakanas are also easy to recognize when they're flying because they hold their long legs stretched out straight behind them, with their heads tucked in towards their bodies. It's not difficult to recognise a maakanaa when you see one swooping over your head!

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