The habit of standing still and flushing only at the last moment has led to widespread folk beliefs that they are semi-blind and their name in many languages includes such suggestions. In Sri Lanka the bird is called kana koka which translates as "half-blind heron" in the Sinhala language. The phrase "bagla bhagat" has been used to describe a "wolf in sheep's clothing" or a hypocrite appearing like a meditating saint and occurs in a Marathi proverb. The paddy-bird also appears as a character in the Hitopadesha where, in one story, it takes injury to itself to save a king. The bird was noted by Anglo-Indian naturalist-writers for the surprising transformation in colours, Phil Robinson described the bird as one that sits all dingy gray and flies all white. It is said to have been eaten by many in India in former times.
During the height of the plume trade, feathers were collected from the "paddy bird" and exported to Britain.
The breeding season begins with the onset of the monsoons. They nest in small colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. Most nests are built at a height of about 9 to 10 m in large leafy trees. The nest material is collected by the male while the female builds the nest. Three to five eggs are laid. The eggs hatch asynchronously, taking 18 to 24 days to hatch. Both parents feed the young.Fish are the main diet fed to young. Nest sites that are not disturbed may be reused year after year.
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