Herons are a type of bird mentioned briefly in the How to Train Your Dragon Book series.
Herons (Family Ardeidae) are generally long-legged and long-beaked wading birds. They typically occur in areas of fresh water or salt water, depending on the species. Their long legs allow for wading in water without submerging in it and their long beaks and necks function as spears to catch prey. Most herons' diet include fish, aquatic invertebrates like mollusks and crustaceans, and sometimes small reptiles, bird eggs, and carrion.
Herons can be separated from other similarly appearing bird taxa such as cranes, from they way they fly. Herons fly with their necks tucked back on their bodies, while other wading birds fly with their necks stretched out.
The Heron is mentioned in the Book series as a metaphor for comparison.
In reality, herons' elegant breeding plumage was a popular decoration for ladies' hats throughout the 18th through early 20th centuries, and in fact the birds were almost hunted to extinction in some areas of the world for their feathers. A type of heron, the snowy egret (Egretta thula) was a popular target and suffered major population decline at the time. They have since rebounded.
Like any other bird, they would have also been consumed occasionally throughout history.
|“||If I didn't owe you a favor, O-Boy-With-Legs-Like-a-Heron, ... that dragon would be history ...||”|
|— Ziggerastica in Dragonese|
Ziggerastica the nanodragon emperor always refers to Hiccup and humans in a derogatory manner, in this instance comparing Hiccup's lanky legs to that of a heron's.