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17 Stunning Vintage Heron Prints & Illustrations For Decor

Discover the breathtaking beauty of herons with our handpicked selection of public-domain vintage heron prints. From meticulous sketches to vivid paintings, these illustrations celebrate the elegance of these majestic waterfowls, perfect for adding a touch of natural sophistication to your living room or as part of a gallery wall.

On my daily morning walks along the river, a graceful grey heron, a common sight in North America, often captures my attention. Its regal stance and patience in hunting fish inspired me to gather this exquisite collection of vintage heron paintings, highlighting the birds’ long legs and distinctive S-shaped necks.

These pieces, hailing from the 18th and 19th centuries, feature ornithological marvels in books such as John James Audubon’s “Birds of America.” Among them, the great blue heron print stands out, showcasing the bird’s serene presence in shallow water, a sight that adds a high-quality, beautiful art print element to any home decor.

10 Interesting Facts about Herons

Although herons look very similar to other species of wading birds such as cranes and storks.  They differ from them, in the way that they fly.   Herons fly with their necks tucked in and not outstretched.

  • Long-Legged Waders: Herons are known for their long legs, allowing them to wade through shallow waters for food.
  • Global Presence: These birds inhabit every continent except Antarctica, showcasing their adaptability to various environments.
  • Diverse Diet: Primarily carnivorous, herons feed on fish, frogs, small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects.
  • Distinctive Features: Recognizable by their long, S-shaped neck, dagger-like bill, and substantial wingspan, herons are designed for precision hunting.
  • Hunting Technique: They often hunt by standing motionless at the water’s edge, waiting to spear prey with their sharp bills.
  • Impressive Wingspan: Herons have wingspans, usually twice their body size, reaching 5.5 to 6.6 feet.
  • Lifespan: In the wild, herons can live around 15 years and up to 25 years in captivity.
  • Skilled Flyers: Capable of reaching speeds up to 30 miles per hour, they fly with their neck curled in an S-shape and legs trailing behind.
  • Nocturnal Vision: Herons possess specially adapted sight, enabling them to hunt efficiently both night and day.
  • Species Diversity: There are 64 known species of herons, some of which are also called egrets or bitterns, inhabiting various aquatic environments, from lakes and rivers to marshes and coastal shores.
free vintage heron paintings

The Vintage Heron Prints Collection

Our collection, freely available for download, spans a range of species, from the iconic great blue heron found across North America to the exotic purple heron and the elegant great egret, also known as the great white heron.

Each high-resolution image, accessible by clicking the title above its illustration, offers a glimpse into the world of these beautiful birds, ideal for enhancing any room with vintage wall art prints or colourful prints for display purposes.

As we explore heron illustrations from 1 to 15, each piece tells a story of adaptation and beauty, from the marsh heron’s survival tactics to the exotic appeal of the purple heron. These vintage illustrations not only serve as stunning home decor but also as a celebration of the natural world’s diversity and splendour.

Heron Prints and Illustrations 1 to 4

1.Great Blue Heron Art Print

A testament to the beauty of North American birds, this piece is a perfect example of a high-quality vintage wall art print. It is from Audobon’s book “Birds of America” published in 1821.

The Great Blue Heron is the largest North American heron. It is found throughout most of North America, as far north as Alaska and the southern Canadian provinces in the summer.

You will find a couple of Audubon’s owl illustrations and pelican prints here.

Great Blue Heron Audubon free print

2. Mark Catesby – Blue Heron

Another blue heron painting, this one from 1768.

This is from Mark Catesby book “Recueil de divers oiseaux étrangers et peu communs” (Collection of various foreign and unusual birds). This illustration adds a touch of history and elegance to his collection of exotic bird prints.

Mark Catesby Blue Heron

3. Great Egret (Great White Heron) – Audubon

Another one of Audubon’s fabulous heron paintings from “The Birds of America”. Showcasing the snowy heron in all its glory, this painting is a must-have for enthusiasts of beautiful art prints

The white egret occurs worldwide in both temperate and tropical climates. It is a large heron with all-white plumage. Standing up to 1m tall, this species has a wingspan of up to 170 cm.

Great White heron Audubon

4. Pair of Great White Herons Painting

A pair of great egrets by Thomas Hardwicke from the book “Indian Zoology volume II” published in 1833.

This painting, alongside other botanical prints and heron paintings like the grey heron and the Louisiana heron, enriches any collection of animal portraits.

Great egrets painting

Heron Vintage Paintings 5-8

5. Grey Heron – 1797

This vintage heron painting is from the book “The natural history of British birds, or, A selection of the most rare, beautiful and interesting birds which inhabit this country – the descriptions from the Systema naturae of Linnaeus” by Edward Donovan et al.

Grey heron painting

6. Purple Heron – 1849 Charles Dessalines d’ Orbigny

The purple heron looks like the grey heron but is slightly smaller, more slender and has darker plumage. It is also a more evasive bird, favoring densely vegetated habitats near water, particularly reed beds.

This heron painting is from the famous “Dictionnaire universel d’histoire naturelle” by Charles Dessalines d’ Orbigny.

Charles Dessalines d' Orbigny  Purple Heron

7. Indian Pond Heron

Another wonderful heron illustration by Thomas Hardwicke (1833) from “Indian Zoology

The Indian pond heron (paddybird) is a small heron common in India. They are usually solitary foragers, but many may sometimes feed nearby during the dry seasons when small wetlands have a high prey concentration. 

Indian Pond Heron

8. Boat Billed Heron – 1792

This boat billed heron painting is by Geroge Shaw.

The boat-billed heron is not a typical member of the heron family. It lives in mangrove swamps in Central and South America. The heron is a nocturnal bird breeds semi-colonially in mangrove trees, laying two to four bluish-white eggs in a twig nest.

The formation of the beak in this bird is strikingly singular and is perhaps broader in proportion to its length than in any other known bird; the upper mandible is carinated or furnished with a rising longitudinal prominence, which gives it an appearance not ill resembling an inverted boat.

boat billed heron

Heron Vintage Prints 9-12

9. Black-Headed Heron – 1849

This vintage image of a black-headed heron is from the book “Iconographie ornithologique” (Bird Iconography), by Marc Athanase Parfait Œillet des Murs et al.

The black-headed heron is common in sub-Saharan Africa. It resembles the grey heron and is nearly as big as it. However, it is generally darker. The black-headed heron’s plumage is mainly grey above and paler grey below. It has a powerful, dusky bill.

black headed heron

10. Goliath Heron – 1838

Vintage painting of a Goliath (giant) heron. The illustration is from the book “Nouveau recueil de planches coloriées d’oiseaux” (New collection of colored plates of birds) by Temminck, C.J. et al.

The goliath heron is the largest living heron species, hence the name. It is found chiefly in Sub-Saharan Africa and feeds mainly on relatively large fish.

goliath heron

11. Great Billed Heron

The great-billed heron can be found in much of coastal Southern Asia and Australasia. Its habitats are largely coastal such as islands, coral reefs, mangroves, large rivers. Occasionally, it can also be found inland in shallow ponds.

Another vintage heron illustration is from the book “Nouveau recueil de planches coloriées d’oiseaux” (A new collection of coloured plates of birds).

great billed heron

12. Le Heron Cendre – (Grey Heron Paintings)

Le Heron Cendre translates as ash heron which is another word for the grey heron. So this vintage heron painting is of a grey heron.

I love the composition of this heron illustration showing the bird by the river bank ready to pounce on an unsuspecting fish.

This is from Mark Catesby’s book “Recueil de divers oiseaux étrangers et peu communs” (Collection of various foreign and unusual birds) 1768.

fishing grey heron

Heron Illustrations 13-17

13. Blue Heron Jabes Heenck 1776.

Blue Heron vintage art print to download

14. Herons In Shallow Water

This beautiful heron painting is one of the Japanese artists Ohara Kosons famous bird paintings.

Herons in shallow water

15. Heron In The Snow

Another one of Ohara’s heron paintings.

Heron in snow

16. Herons in the rain

Another Ohara Koson heron illustration. In Japanese culture, herons are often associated with purity and grace. Koson’s portrayal of herons in a dignified and elegant manner may reflect these cultural associations.

Ohara Koson Birds two herons in the rain

Print 17: Kono Bairei Herons

Our journey through the world of vintage heron prints concludes with Kono Bairei’s depiction of herons among Japanese Iris. This piece beautifully captures the intersection of wildlife and botanical art. This collection and other free-to-download bird prints available on Pictureboxblue offer endless possibilities for creating a unique and beautiful gallery wall.

Heron and Irises Japanese Birds and Flower Painting

Other Vintage Bird Prints and Paintings

If you liked these wonderful vintage heron paintings, don’t forget to check out the whole birds category on the blog for these other free-to-download bird prints.

Using old picture frames, see how to hang these vintage bird prints on a fabulous gallery wall.

If you fancy, you can Buy Me A Coffee Here.

Marc Spries

Wednesday 27th of July 2022

How do I get hi-res images of some of these heron drawings in TIFF or ai files - as the current jpegs are just too small for large printing?


Sunday 31st of July 2022

These are the highest resolution images I was able to source. Maybe try the Audubon Society to see if you can get bigger files.

Carla Chantry

Friday 30th of April 2021

Thank you for sharing your blue herring paintings. Beautiful!


Friday 30th of April 2021

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed them.


Monday 13th of January 2020

Beautiful paintings, Claire. I have seen these birds around the lakes but never know their names, now I know them :)Thank you for linking with us at #HomeMatters Linky Party.


Monday 13th of January 2020

Thank you, they are very majestic and it seems special when you manage to see one in the wild.