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Black Heron - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Steve G
Abuko, The Gambia, March 2005
Egretta ardesiaca


Small compact egret

  • Black, or dark slate plumage
  • Bill and legs: black
  • Feet varies from yellow, through orangey-yellow to orange, sometimes with black scales.
  • During breeding feet may be redder
  • Yellow iris
Photo by nkgray
Marievale wetland, Gauteng, South Africa, December 2005


  • Iris: dark brown
  • Bill: dark horn or black
  • Legs: dark grey
  • Feet: dullish orange-yellow

Similar Species

Smaller than Western Reef Heron and can be distiguished from that and a melanistic Little Egret in flight by faster wing beats and feeding method (see Behaviour)


Sub-Saharan Africa: breeds widely but discontinuously from Senegal to Sudan and south, mainly through the eastern half of the continent, to South Africa.

Probably dispersive rather than migratory, perhaps nomadic in response to rains in some areas.




Lake margins and riverbanks, tidal creeks, rice fields and flooded grasslands.

Typical hunting behaviour
Photo by safariranger
Olifants Bridge, Kruger National Park, South Africa, March 2003


This bird has a distinctive hunting method. It forms an umbrella with its wings and catches the fish which are drawn to the shade.


The diet includes small fish, aquatic insects and crustaceans.


The two to four blue eggs are laid in a twig nest which is placed in a tree, bush or reed bed.


  1. Clements, JF. 2008. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2008. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019.
  2. Wikipedia
  3. BWPi
  4. BWP Concise

Recommended Citation

External Links

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