Heron Hepatitis B Virus was discovered in 1988 in sera of grey herons (Ardea cinerea), that were living in a German zoo. The virus shares about 78% of its genes with Duck Hepatitis B Virus, but Heron Hepatitis B Virus does not infect ducks. In the grey heron it infects the liver and produces a viremia.
Comparative analysis of the captive German grey herons and the free-ranging American great blue herons implied a common ancestor. The data demonstrated that different subspecies of herons are infected by Heron Hepatitis B Virus.
This analysis and the fact that the different heron species are geographically isolated populations suggest that lateral transmission, virus adaptation and environmental factors all play a role in the spread and evolution of Heron Hepatitis B Virus.
 Sprengel et al: Isolation and characterization of a hepatitis B virus endemic in herons in Journal of Virology - 1988
 Netter et al: Sequence heterogeneity of heron hepatitis B virus genomes determined by full-length DNA amplification and direct sequencing reveals novel and unique features in Journal of General Virology - 1997
 Lin et al: Evidence from nature: interspecies spread of heron hepatitis B viruses in Journal of General Virology - 2005