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Squacco Heron - BirdForum Opus

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Photo © by A. Meir
Eilat, Israel, May 2005
Ardeola ralloides


Photo © by Donald Talbott
Elounda, Crete, Greece, 12 May 2019

42–47 cm (16½-18½ in)

  • Short neck
  • Thick dark bill, with greenish tip
  • Pale buff-brown back, with faint violet sheen
  • Greenish legs
  • Summer adults have elongated neck feathers. Bill black and blue; legs pink during courtship period


The white wings are concealed when on the ground, the bird looking light brown, in flight it appears almost all white.


Breeding range very patchy across southern Europe from Iberia to the Balkans and Ukraine. Also in parts of Turkey, the Middle East, Morocco and Egypt and east to Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. In decline in many areas through the drainage of wetlands but the first breeding for Sardinia was recorded in 1985 and the Balearics in 1997.

Has a wide but scattered distribution in sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Sudan and Somalia and south to the Cape.


Photo © by Kevin Wade
Marbella, Spain, Río Verde, May 2019

This is a monotypic species[1].


Freshwater swamps, ponds and ditches, often with very small areas of water, also larger waterbodies with dense vegetation, especially reedbeds with scattered willows.



They nest in small colonies, at shallow marshy lakes, ponds and rivers with reeds. The nest is usually on platforms of sticks in trees or bushes. Three or four eggs are laid.


The diet consists mostly of insect larva such as flies, mayflies and dragonflies with the addition of fish too.



  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved June 2016)
  3. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
  4. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6

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