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Indian Pond Heron - BirdForum Opus

Breeding plumage
Photo © by Peter Ericsson.
Thailand, where vagrant, probably underreported.
Ardeola grayii


39–46 cm (15¼-18 in) Adult Breeding: Head and neck light buffy-brown, Long head plumes, Scapulars and Mantle redish-chocolate brown. White Throat, Greater Upper Coverts slightly buff.

Adult Non-breeding and Juvenile: head, neck, and breast have streaks and spots.

Similar species

Transitional plumage
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, India, June-2017

In non-breeding can be very similar to Squacco Heron but Indian Pond Heron has a dark supraloral line (just above the gape from below the eye to the front of the head). May not be separable from Chinese Pond Heron in non-breeding/juvenile plumage.


Breeds from southern Iran eatwards, throughout the Indian Subcontinent including Sri Lanka and the Maldives, in Burma and on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Has been recorded in Kuwait although not recorded for many years and recently reported in Belgium in July 1988 but this bird was generally thought to be an escape.

Largely resident but occurs as a rare but regular migrant in Oman.


This is a monotypic species1.

Very closely related to Chinese Pond Heron, Javan Pond Heron and perhaps Madagascar Pond Heron.


Usually freshwater, sometimes brackish lagoons or on coastal mudflats. Can be seen on almost any kind of freshwater from small stagnant pools to large lakes and often close to human habitation.


Winter plumage-notice the dark supraloral line
Photo © by ariban.
Patuli, Kolkata, India, December 2011

When Spooked freezes, until exploding in flight. Have been observed catching jumping fish and diving whilst in flight.


Their varied diet includes small fish, frogs, tadpoles and crabs.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved August 2015)

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