Ardeidae – Herons, Egrets & Bitterns

Rufescent Tiger Heron Tigrisoma lineatum ©Craig Brelsford Website

Ardeidae are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds. According to the IOC there are 66 (64 to 67 species recognised (by different authorities) in this family variously called called ‘egrets’ or ‘bitterns’, ‘herons’ and ‘night-herons’.

Within the family, all members of the genera Botaurus and Ixobrychus are referred to as ‘bitterns’, including the Zigzag Heron or Zigzag Bittern & are a monophyletic group within the Ardeidae. However, egrets are not a biologically distinct group from the herons, and tend to be named differently because they are mainly white and/or have decorative plumes. Although egrets have the same build as the larger herons, they tend to be smaller.

The classification of the individual heron/egret species is fraught with difficulty, and there is still no clear consensus about the correct placement of many species into either of the two major genera, Ardea and Egretta. Similarly, the relationship of the genera in the family is not completely resolved. However, one species formerly considered to constitute a separate monotypic family Cochlearidae, the Boat-billed Heron, is now regarded as a member of the Ardeidae.

Although herons resemble birds in some other families, such as the storks, ibises, spoonbills and cranes, they differ from these in flying with their necks retracted, not outstretched. They are also one of the bird groups that have powder down.

Some members of this group nest (and often roost) colonially in trees, often in mixed species colonies; others, notably the bitterns, use reedbeds.

The familly Ardeidae contains herons, egrets and bitterns. The 66 species recognised by the IOC are:

Forest Bittern Zonerodius heliosylus

White-crested Tiger Heron Tigriornis leucolopha

Rufescent Tiger Heron Tigrisoma lineatum
Fasciated Tiger Heron Tigrisoma fasciatum
Bare-throated Tiger Heron Tigrisoma mexicanum

Agami Heron Agamia agami

Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius

Zigzag Heron Zebrilus undulatus

Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris
Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus
American Bittern Botaurus lentiginosus
Pinnated Bittern Botaurus pinnatus

Stripe-backed Bittern Ixobrychus involucris
Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus
Black-backed Bittern Ixobrychus dubius
Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis
Von Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus
Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus
Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii

Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis

White-eared Night Heron Gorsachius magnificus
Japanese Night Heron Gorsachius goisagi
Malayan Night Heron Gorsachius melanolophus
White-backed Night Heron Gorsachius leuconotus

Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Nankeen Night Heron Nycticorax caledonicus

Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nyctanassa violacea

Green Heron Butorides virescens
Lava Heron Butorides sundevalli
Striated Heron Butorides striata

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii
Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus
Javan Pond Heron Ardeola speciosa
Malagasy Pond Heron Ardeola idae
Rufous-bellied Heron Ardeola rufiventris

Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
Cocoi Heron Ardea cocoi
White-necked Heron Ardea pacifica
Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala
Humblot’s Heron Ardea humbloti
White-bellied Heron Ardea insignis
Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana
Goliath Heron Ardea goliath
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Great Egret Ardea alba
Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia

Capped Heron Pilherodius pileatus

Whistling Heron Syrigma sibilatrix

Pied Heron Egretta picata
White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae
Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens
Black Heron Egretta ardesiaca
Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula
Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea
Snowy Egret Egretta thula
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis
Dimorphic Egret Egretta dimorpha
Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra
Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes

Species Links
  • Agami Heron Agamia agami

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Agami Heron Agamia agami

    Species Account
    The agami heron (Agamia agami) is a medium-sized heron. It is a resident breeding bird from Central America south to Peru and Brazil. It is sometimes known as the chestnut-bellied heron, and is the only member of the genus Agamia.
  • Agami Heron Agamia agami

    Cornell Species Account
    The Agami Heron is a spectacular and unique heron of lowland primary forest in Central America and northern South America.
  • Agami Heron Agamia agami

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea Agami J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Cayenne. Monotypic.
  • Agami Heron Agamia agami

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Agami Heron Agamia agami

    IUCN Species Status
  • American Bittern Botaurus lentiginosus

    BirdLife Species Account
  • American Bittern Botaurus lentiginosus

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea lentiginosa Rackett, 1813, Piddletown, Dorset, England. Apparently most closely related to B. pinnatus. Monotypic.
  • American Bittern Botaurus lentiginosus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • American Bittern Botaurus lentiginosus

    Species Account
    The American bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) is a species of wading bird in the heron family of the Pelican order of bird. It has a Nearctic distribution, breeding in Canada and the northern and central parts of the United States, and wintering in the southern US Gulf Coast states, all of Florida into the Everglades, the Caribbean islands and parts of Central America.
  • American Bittern Botaurus lentiginosus

    Cornell Species Account
    You'll need sharp eyes to catch sight of an American Bittern. This streaky, brown and buff heron can materialize among the reeds, and disappear as quickly, especially when striking a concealment pose with neck stretched and bill pointed skyward.
  • Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus

    Species Account
    The Australasian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus), also known as the brown bittern or matuku hūrepo, is a large bird in the heron family Ardeidae. A secretive bird with a distinctive booming call, it is more often heard than seen. Australasian bitterns are endangered in both Australia and New Zealand.
  • Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus

    IUCN Species Status
  • Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus

    HBW Species Account
  • Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus

    Species Account
    The Australasian Bittern is a heavy-set, partially nocturnal heron with upperparts that are patterned dark brown, buff and black, and underparts that are streaked brown and buff. The eyebrow and throat are pale, and the side of the neck is dark brown.
  • Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Bare-Throated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma mexicanum

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Bare-Throated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma mexicanum

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Tigrisoma mexicana Swainson, 1834, Real del Monte, Hidalgo, Mexico. In the past was often placed in a monospecific genus Heterocnus. Upland population of Sonora and Sinaloa (S Mexico) formerly separated as subspecies fremitus. Monotypic.
  • Bare-Throated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma mexicanum

    IUCN Species Status
  • Bare-Throated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma mexicanum

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Bare-Throated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma mexicanum

    Species Account
    The bare-throated tiger heron (Tigrisoma mexicanum) is a wading bird of the heron family, Ardeidae, found from Mexico to northwestern Colombia.
  • Bare-Throated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma mexicanum

    Cornell Species Account
    Bare-throated Tiger-Heron is a medium-sized wading bird of Central America that reaches northwestern South America in Colombia and extreme northwestern Peru.
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

    Cornell Species Account
    The Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) is the most widespread heron in the world, breeding on every continent except Antarctica and Australia, where the genus is represented by the Nankeen (or Rufous) Night-Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus).
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

    Species Account
    The black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), commonly abbreviated to just night heron in Eurasia, is a medium-sized heron found throughout a large part of the world, except in the coldest regions and Australasia (where it is replaced by the closely related rufous night heron, with which it has hybridized in the area of contact).
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

    IUCN Species Status
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

    Species account…
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea Nycticorax Linnaeus, 1758, southern Europe.Closely related to N. caledonicus, with which known to have hybridized in Java, Sulawesi and Philippines. Races hoactli and falklandicus sometimes absorbed within, respectively, nominate and obscurus. Four subspecies usually recognized.
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala

    Webpage
    BirdLife species account...
  • Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala

    Webpage
    Images
  • Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala

    Webpage
    Species profile...
  • Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius

    IUCN Species Status
  • Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius

    Cornell Species Account
    Superficially resembling night-herons in the genus Nycticorax, the Boat-billed Heron differs in its extremely wide, flat bill whose maxilla looks like the upturned keel of a boat, giving this species its common name.
  • Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Cancroma Cochlearia Linnaeus, 1766, Cayenne. The three N subspecies are sometimes considered a separate species, C. zeledoni, on basis of buff-grey vs white breast and lower face (3) and darker upperparts (1), but no other differences apparent; birds from NW Costa Rica, currently placed in race panamensis, are intermediate between the two groups. Five subspecies normally recognized.
  • Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius

    Species account and images…
  • Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius

    Species Account
    The boat-billed heron (Cochlearius cochlearius), colloquially known as the boatbill, is an atypical member of the heron family, and was formerly thought to be in a monotypic family, Cochlearidae. It lives in mangrove swamps from Mexico south to Peru and Brazil. It is a nocturnal bird, and breeds semi-colonially in mangrove trees, laying 2–4 bluish white eggs in a twig nest.
  • Capped Heron Pilherodius pileatus

    BirdLife Species Account
    Species account…
  • Capped Heron Pilherodius pileatus

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea pileata Boddaert, 1783, Cayenne. Has been placed with night-herons and even included in genus Nycticorax, but is not a nocturnal feeder, lacks distinct juvenile plumage and is morphologically closer to day-herons. Monotypic.
  • Capped Heron Pilherodius pileatus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Capped Heron Pilherodius pileatus

    Species Account
    The capped heron (Pilherodius pileatus) is a water bird endemic to the neotropics, inhabiting the Amazonian rainforest from the center of Panama to the south of Brazil.[2] It is the only species of the Pilherodius genus, and one of the least known of the heron family Ardeidae. It is superficially similar to the group of the night herons, but is active during daytime or at twilight.
  • Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes

    BirdLife Species Account
    Species account and status…
  • Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Herodias eulophotes Swinhoe, 1860, Amoy, China.Formerly thought to be a white morph of E. sacra. Monotypic.
  • Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes

    IUCN Species Status
  • Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes

    Species Account
    The Chinese egret or Swinhoe's egret (Egretta eulophotes) is a threatened species of egret from east Asia.
  • Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus

    Species Account
    The cinnamon bittern or chestnut bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus) is a small Old World bittern, breeding in tropical and subtropical Asia from India east to China and Indonesia. It is mainly resident, but some northern birds migrate short distances.
  • Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus

    IUCN Species Status
  • Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea cinnamomea J. F. Gmelin, 1789, China. Monotypic
  • Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Cocoi (White-necked) Heron Ardea cocoi

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Cocoi (White-necked) Heron Ardea cocoi

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea Cocoi Linnaeus, 1766, Cayenne.Closely related to A. cinerea and A. herodias. Monotypic.
  • Cocoi (White-necked) Heron Ardea cocoi

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Cocoi (White-necked) Heron Ardea cocoi

    Species Account
    The cocoi heron (Ardea cocoi) is a species of heron in the family Ardeidae. It is common and widespread throughout most of South America including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. It is a non-breeding visitor to Trinidad and Tobago and a vagrant to the Falkland Islands and Tristan da Cunha. Its natural habitats are rivers, swamps, and freshwater lakes.
  • Cocoi (White-necked) Heron Ardea cocoi

    Cornell Species Account
    The largest of the South American Herons, the Cocoi Heron is a gregarious heron of South America away from the high Andes, from eastern Panama south to Central Argentina and Chile.
  • Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii

    IBC Species Account
    Extensive pdf file on bitterns…
  • Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii

    HBW Species Account
  • Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii

    IUCN Species Status
  • Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Dwarf Bittern Ixobrychus sturmii

    Species Account
    The dwarf bittern (Ixobrychus sturmii) is a small species of heron in the family Ardeidae, native to tropical and sub-tropical Africa.
  • Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus

    HBW Species Account
  • Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris

    HBW Species Account
  • Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris

    IUCN Species Status
  • Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris

    Species Account
    The Eurasian bittern or great bittern (Botaurus stellaris) is a wading bird in the bittern subfamily (Botaurinae) of the heron family Ardeidae. There are two subspecies, the northern race (B. s. stellaris) breeding in parts of Europe and Asia, as well as on the northern coast of Africa, while the southern race (B. s. capensis) is endemic to parts of southern Africa.
  • Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris

    RSPB Species Account
    A thickset heron with all-over bright, pale, buffy-brown plumage covered with dark streaks and bars. It flies on broad, rounded, bowed wings.
  • Goliath Heron Ardea goliath

    BirdLife Species Account
    BirdLife species profile…
  • Goliath Heron Ardea goliath

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea goliath Cretzschmar, 1829, Bahr el Abiad = White Nile.Monotypic.
  • Goliath Heron Ardea goliath

    IUCN Species Status
  • Goliath Heron Ardea goliath

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Goliath Heron Ardea goliath

    Species Account
    The Goliath heron (Ardea goliath), also known as the giant heron,[2] is a very large wading bird of the heron family, Ardeidae. It is found in sub-Saharan Africa, with smaller numbers in Southwest and South Asia.
  • Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias

    Species Account
    The great blue heron (Ardea herodias) is a large wading bird in the heron family Ardeidae, common near the shores of open water and in wetlands over most of North America and Central America, as well as the Caribbean and the Galápagos Islands. It is a rare vagrant to coastal Spain, the Azores, and areas of far southern Europe. An all-white population found only in the Caribbean and Florida was once treated as a separate species and known as the great white heron.
  • Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias

    Cornell Species Account
    Whether poised at a river bend or cruising the coastline with slow, deep wingbeats, the Great Blue Heron is a majestic sight. This stately heron with its subtle blue-gray plumage often stands motionless as it scans for prey or wades belly deep with long, deliberate steps
  • Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea herodias Linnaeus, 1758, America = Hudson Bay, Canada.
  • Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Great Egret Ardea alba

    Webpage
    BirdLife species profile…
  • Great Egret Ardea alba

    HBW Species Account
  • Great Egret Ardea alba

    IUCN Species Status
  • Great Egret Ardea alba

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Great Egret Ardea alba

    Species Account
    The great egret (Ardea alba), also known as the common egret, large egret or (in the Old World) great white heron,[2][3][4] is a large, widely distributed egret, with four subspecies found in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and southern Europe. Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world. It builds tree nests in colonies close to water.
  • Great Egret Ardea alba

    Cornell Species Account
    The elegant Great Egret is a dazzling sight in many a North American wetland. Slightly smaller and more svelte than a Great Blue Heron, these are still large birds with impressive wingspans.
  • Green Heron Butorides virescens

    IUCN Species Status
  • Green Heron Butorides virescens

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Green Heron Butorides virescens

    Species Account
    The green heron (Butorides virescens) is a small heron of North and Central America. Butorides is from Middle English butor "bittern" and Ancient Greek -oides, "resembling", and virescens is Latin for "greenish
  • Green Heron Butorides virescens

    Cornell Species Account
    From a distance, the Green Heron is a dark, stocky bird hunched on slender yellow legs at the water’s edge, often hidden behind a tangle of leaves.
  • Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

    Species Account
    The grey heron (Ardea cinerea) is a long-legged predatory wading bird of the heron family, Ardeidae, native throughout temperate Europe and Asia and also parts of Africa. It is resident in much of its range, but some populations from the more northern parts migrate southwards in autumn. A bird of wetland areas, it can be seen around lakes, rivers, ponds, marshes and on the sea coast. It feeds mostly on aquatic creatures which it catches after standing stationary beside or in the water or stalking its prey through the shallows.
  • Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

    RSPB Species Account
    Grey herons are unmistakeable: tall, with long legs, a long beak and grey, black and white feathering.
  • Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

    IUCN Species Status
  • Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea cinerea Linnaeus, 1758, Europe; restricted to Sweden. Closely related to A. herodias and A. cocoi. Race monicae recently considered a separate species by some authors following earlier study; from photographs and the literature (specimens unexamined) appears fairly distinctive, being shorter-winged and shorter-tailed (allow 2), and with a variably whiter head and neck (allow 2). Four subspecies generally recognized.
  • Indian Pond-Heron Ardeola grayii

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea Grayii Sykes, 1832, Deccan, India. Closely related to A. ralloides, A. bacchus and A. speciosa. Perhaps also close to A. idae. Monotypic.
  • Indian Pond-Heron Ardeola grayii

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Indian Pond-Heron Ardeola grayii

    Species Account
    The Indian pond heron or paddybird (Ardeola grayii) is a small heron. It is of Old World origins, breeding in southern Iran and east to Pakistan, India, Burma, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
  • Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea intermedia Wagler, 1829, Java. Frequently placed in genus Egretta or sometimes in Mesophoyx, but DNA analyses indicate closer genetic link with Ardea. Hitherto considered conspecific with A. brachyrhyncha and A. plumifera, but differs from both when breeding in having black vs yellow-and-pink bill (3), much yellower lores and facial area (2), and black vs reddish tops of legs (2). Monotypic.
  • Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia

    IUCN Species Status
  • Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia

    Species Account
    The intermediate egret, median egret,[2] smaller egret,[3] or yellow-billed egret (Mesophoyx intermedia) is a medium-sized heron. Some taxonomists put the species in the genus Egretta or Ardea. It is a resident breeder from east Africa across the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia and Australia.
  • Lava (Galapagos) Heron Butorides sundevalli

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Lava (Galapagos) Heron Butorides sundevalli

    Species Account
    The lava heron (Butorides sundevalli), also known as the Galápagos heron, is a species of heron endemic to the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador. It is considered by some authorities — including the American Ornithologists' Union and BirdLife International — to be a subspecies (or even just a colour morph) of the striated heron (B. striata), and was formerly "lumped" with this species and the green heron (B. virescens) as the green-backed heron.
  • Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis

    Species Account
    Species account…
  • Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis

    Cornell Species Account
    A tiny heron, furtive and surpassingly well camouflaged, the Least Bittern is one of the most difficult North American marsh birds to spot. Despite its inconspicuousness, however, the species can be rather common within appropriate habitat in its breeding range.
  • Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus

    IUCN Species Status
  • Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus

    Species Account
    The little bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) is a wading bird in the heron family, Ardeidae. Ixobrychus is from Ancient Greek ixias, a reed-like plant and brukhomai, to bellow, and minutus is Latin for "small"
  • Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea caerulea Linnaeus, 1758, South Carolina, USA. Sometimes placed in monospecific genus Florida. Monotypic.
  • Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea

    Species Account
    The little blue heron (Egretta caerulea) is a small heron. It breeds in the Gulf states of the US, through Central America and the Caribbean south to Peru and Uruguay. It is a resident breeder in most of its range, but some northern breeders migrate to the southeastern US or beyond in winter. There is post-breeding dispersal to well north of the nesting range, as far as the Canada–US border.
  • Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea

    Cornell Species Account
    A small, dark heron arrayed in moody blues and purples, the Little Blue Heron is a common but inconspicuous resident of marshes and estuaries in the Southeast.
  • Little Egret Egretta garzetta

    RSPB Species Account
    RSPB Image and account…
  • Little Egret Egretta garzetta

    Species Account
    The little egret (Egretta garzetta) is a species of small heron in the family Ardeidae. The genus name comes from the Provençal French Aigrette, "egret", a diminutive of Aigron," heron". The species epithet garzetta is from the Italian name for this bird, garzetta or sgarzetta.
  • Little Egret Egretta garzetta

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Little Egret Egretta garzetta

    BirdLife Species Account
    BirdLife species profile...
  • Little Egret Egretta garzetta

    IUCN Species Status
  • Little Egret Egretta garzetta

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea Garzetta Linnaeus, 1766, “in Oriente”; restricted to Malalbergo, north-eastern Italy. Closely related to E. thula (see above). Often considered conspecific with E. gularis (see below). Race immaculata sometimes synonymized with nigripes, but probably worthy of recognition; these two forms apparently differ vocally from nominate; further study needed. Three subspecies recognized.
  • Little Egret Egretta garzetta

    Species Account
    The Little Egret is a small white egret with dark grey-black legs, black bill and a bright yellow naked face. In the breeding season the plumage includes two ribbon-like head plumes, and abundant plumes on the back and breast. The Little Egret is also called the Lesser Egret.
  • Malayan Night-Heron Gorsachius melanolophus

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Malayan Night-Heron Gorsachius melanolophus

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea melanolopha Raffles, 1822, western Sumatra.Probably most closely related to G. goisagi. Proposed races rufolineatus (Palawan, in W Philippines) and kutteri (rest of Philippines) considered indistinguishable from nominate. Two subspecies recognized.
  • Malayan Night-Heron Gorsachius melanolophus

    IUCN Species Status
  • Malayan Night-Heron Gorsachius melanolophus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Malayan Night-Heron Gorsachius melanolophus

    Species Account
    The Malayan night heron (Gorsachius melanolophus), also known as Malaysian night heron and tiger bittern,[2] is a medium-sized heron. It is distributed in southern and eastern Asia.
  • Pacific (Eastern) Reef-egret Egretta sacra

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Pacific (Eastern) Reef-egret Egretta sacra

    Species Account
    The Pacific reef heron (Egretta sacra), also known as the eastern reef heron or eastern reef egret, is a kind of heron. They are found in many areas of Asia including the oceanic region of India, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Polynesia, and in Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand.
  • Pacific (Eastern) Reef-egret Egretta sacra

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Pacific (Eastern) Reef-egret Egretta sacra

    IUCN Species Status
  • Pacific (Eastern) Reef-egret Egretta sacra

    Species Account
    There are two colour forms of the Eastern Reef Egret. The white form has a white body and wings, a yellow and grey bill, a bare face that is green-yellow, and dull yellow-grey legs. The dark form has a slate-grey body and wings, with a small white streak on the throat, the bill is slate-brown, and the legs are grey. The eyes of both forms are yellow. The Eatern Reef Egret is also called the Eastern Reef Heron, and the dark form the Blue Heron or Blue Reef Heron.
  • Pacific (Eastern) Reef-egret Egretta sacra

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea sacra J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Tahiti.Sometimes placed in genus Demigretta. Proposed race micronesiae (Pacific islands) included with nominate. Two subspecies recognized.
  • Pied Heron Egretta picata

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Pied Heron Egretta picata

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea (Herodias) picata Gould, 1845, Port Essington, Northern Territory, Australia. Frequently included in genus Ardea; in past, occasionally in Tonophoyx or even Notophoyx. Monotypic.
  • Pied Heron Egretta picata

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Pied Heron Egretta picata

    Species Account
    The pied heron (Ardea picata), also known as the pied egret[4] is a bird found in coastal and subcoastal areas of monsoonal northern Australia as well as some parts of Wallacea and New Guinea.
  • Pinnated Bittern Botaurus pinnatus

    Species Account
    The pinnated bittern (Botaurus pinnatus), also known as the South American bittern, is a large member of the heron family (Ardeidae) found in the New World tropics. Like the other Botaurus bitterns, its plumage is mostly buffy-brown and cryptically patterned. Though it is a widespread species, it is rarely seen – presumably due to its skulking habits – and much about its life history remains little known.
  • Pinnated Bittern Botaurus pinnatus

    Cornell Species Account
    It is estimated that approximately a thousand pairs may breed in the Cocos Island National Park in Costa Rica.
  • Pinnated Bittern Botaurus pinnatus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Pinnated Bittern Botaurus pinnatus

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea pinnata Wagler, 1829, Bahia, Brazil.Apparently most closely related to B. lentiginosus. Two subspecies recognized.
  • Pinnated Bittern Botaurus pinnatus

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Purple Heron Ardea purpurea

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Purple Heron Ardea purpurea

    IUCN Species Status
  • Purple Heron Ardea purpurea

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Purple Heron Ardea purpurea

    Species Account
    The purple heron (Ardea purpurea) is a wide ranging species of wading bird in the heron family, Ardeidae. The scientific name comes from Latin ardea "heron", and purpureus, "coloured purple".[2] It breeds in Africa, central and southern Europe, and southern and eastern Asia. The Western Palearctic populations migrate between breeding and wintering habitats whereas the African and tropical-Asian populations are primarily sedentary, except for occasional dispersive movements.
  • Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea rufescens J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Louisiana, USA.Occasionally placed in monotypic genus Dichromanassa. White morph formerly considered a separate species, Peale’s Egret (A. pealii). Race dickeyi poorly differentiated, perhaps not tenable. Two subspecies tentatively recognized.
  • Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens

    IUCN Species Status
  • Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens

    Species Account
    The reddish egret (Egretta rufescens) is a medium-sized heron. It is a resident breeder in Central America, The Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Gulf Coast of the United States, and Mexico.[2] There is post-breeding dispersal to well north of the nesting range. In the past, this bird was a victim of the plume trade.
  • Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens

    Cornell Species Account
    A medium to large heron of shallow salt water, the Reddish Egret comes in a dark and a white form. It is a very active forager, often seen running, jumping, and spinning in its pursuit of fish.
  • Rufescent Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma lineatum

    Cornell Species Account
    Though diligent and quiet, observers may encounter this reclusive heron standing still along sluggish streams and backwater swamps.
  • Rufescent Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma lineatum

    Species Account
    he rufescent tiger heron (Tigrisoma lineatum) is a species of heron in the family Ardeidae. It is found in wetlands from Central America through much of South America.
  • Rufescent Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma lineatum

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Rufescent Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma lineatum

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea lineata Boddaert, 1783, Cayenne. Two subspecies recognized.
  • Rufescent Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma lineatum

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Rufous-bellied Heron Ardeola rufiventris

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea lineata Boddaert, 1783, Cayenne. Two subspecies recognized.
  • Rufous-bellied Heron Ardeola rufiventris

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Rufous-bellied Heron Ardeola rufiventris

    Cornell Species Account
    Though diligent and quiet, observers may encounter this reclusive heron standing still along sluggish streams and backwater swamps. The Rufescent Tiger-Heron generally is the least-frequently encountered of the three species of Tigrisoma, and is considered uncommon to rare through much of its range.
  • Snowy Egret Egretta thula

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Snowy Egret Egretta thula

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea Thula Molina, 1782, Chile.
  • Snowy Egret Egretta thula

    IUCN Species Status
  • Snowy Egret Egretta thula

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Snowy Egret Egretta thula

    Species Account
    The snowy egret (Egretta thula) is a small white heron. The genus name comes from the Provençal French for the little egret Aigrette, a diminutive of Aigron," heron". The species name thula is the Araucano for the Black-necked Swan, applied to this species in error by Chilean naturalist Juan Ignacio Molina in 1782.
  • Snowy Egret Egretta thula

    Cornell Species Account
    Among the most elegant of the herons, the slender Snowy Egret sets off immaculate white plumage with black legs and brilliant yellow feet.
  • Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides

    Species Account
    The squacco heron (Ardeola ralloides) is a small heron, 44–47 cm (17–19 in) long, of which the body is 20–23 cm (7.9–9.1 in), with 80–92 cm (31–36 in) wingspan.[2] It is of Old World origins, breeding in southern Europe and the Greater Middle East.
  • Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea ralloides Scopoli, 1769, Carniola, west Slovenia. Closely related to A. grayii, A. bacchus and A. speciosa. Two subspecies recognized.
  • Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides

    BirdLife Species Account
    BirdLife species profile...
  • Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides

    IUCN Species Status
  • Striated (Green-backed) Heron Butorides striatus

    IUCN Species Status
  • Striated (Green-backed) Heron Butorides striatus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Striated (Green-backed) Heron Butorides striatus

    Species Account
    The striated heron (Butorides striata) also known as mangrove heron, little heron or green-backed heron, is a small heron. Striated herons are mostly non-migratory and noted for some interesting behavioral traits.
  • Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor

    BirdLife Species Account
    BirdLife species profile...
  • Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea tricolor Statius Müller, 1776, Cayenne.Sometimes placed in genus Hydranassa. Race rufimentum synonymized with nominate tricolor by some authors, but probably merits recognition. W Mexico population often separated as race occidentalis, but generally considered indistinguishable from ruficollis. Three subspecies recognized.
  • Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor

    IUCN Species Status
  • Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor

    Species Account
    The tricolored heron (Egretta tricolor), formerly known in North America as the Louisiana heron, is a small heron. It is a resident breeder from the Gulf states of the United States and northern Mexico south through Central America and the Caribbean to central Brazil and Peru. There is some post-breeding dispersal to well north of the nesting range.
  • Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor

    Cornell Species Account
    A medium-sized, slender heron of the southeastern United States, the Tricolored Heron was formerly known as the Louisiana Heron.
  • Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

    Species Account
    The cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis) is a cosmopolitan species of heron (family Ardeidae) found in the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate zones.
  • Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

    Cornell Species Account
    The short, thick-necked Cattle Egret spends most of its time in fields rather than streams. It forages at the feet of grazing cattle, head bobbing with each step, or rides on their backs to pick at ticks.
  • Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

    IUCN Species Status
  • Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

    BirdLife Species Account
    BirdLife species account…
  • Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Whistling Heron Syrigma sibilatrix

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Whistling Heron Syrigma sibilatrix

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea sibilatrix Temminck, 1824, Brazil and Paraguay. Formerly placed with night-herons, but behaviour and morphology suggest closer affiliation to day-herons. Validity of race fostersmithi sometimes questioned. Two subspecies normally recognized.
  • Whistling Heron Syrigma sibilatrix

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Whistling Heron Syrigma sibilatrix

    Species Account
    The whistling heron (Syrigma sibilatrix) is a medium-sized, often terrestrial heron of South America. There are two subspecies, the southern S. s. sibilatrix and the northern S. s. fostersmithi.
  • Whistling Heron Syrigma sibilatrix

    Cornell Species Account
    The Whistling Heron is endemic to South America, where it occupies two disjunct regions.
  • White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae

    BirdLife Species Account
  • White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae

    Species Account
    The White-faced Heron is mostly light blue-grey in colour, with a characteristic white face. In flight, the dark flight feathers of the wing contrast with the paler grey plumage, making this bird easily identifiable when viewed from below.
  • White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea novae Hollandiae Latham, 1790, New South Wales, Australia. Formerly placed in genus Notophoyx, sometimes alongside E. picata; may be close to Ardea. Validity of race parryi uncertain. New Caledonia population sometimes separated as race nana. Two subspecies tentatively recognized.
  • White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae

    Species Account
    The white-faced heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) also known as the white-fronted heron,[2] and incorrectly as the grey heron,[3] or blue crane,[2] is a common bird throughout most of Australasia, including New Guinea, the islands of Torres Strait, Indonesia, New Zealand, and all but the driest areas of Australia.
  • Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nyctanassa violacea

    Species Account
    The yellow-crowned night heron (Nyctanassa violacea, formerly in the genus Nycticorax), is one of two species of night herons found in the Americas, the other one being the black-crowned night heron. It is known as the Bihoreau Violacé in French and the Pedrete Corona Clara in Spanish.
  • Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nyctanassa violacea

    Cornell Species Account
    While not as slender as a typical heron, the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron’s smooth purple-gray colors, sharp black-and-white face, and long yellow plumes lend it a touch of elegance.
  • Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nyctanassa violacea

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nyctanassa violacea

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nyctanassa violacea

    IUCN Species Status
  • Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nyctanassa violacea

    HBW Species Account
  • Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax violaceus

    IBC Species Account
    Species account with image…
  • Zigzag Heron Zebrilus undulatus

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Zigzag Heron Zebrilus undulatus

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Ardea undulata J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Cayenne. Monotypic.
  • Zigzag Heron Zebrilus undulatus

    IUCN Species Status
  • Zigzag Heron Zebrilus undulatus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Zigzag Heron Zebrilus undulatus

    Species Account
    The zigzag heron (Zebrilus undulatus) is a species of heron in the family Ardeidae, also including egrets and bitterns. It is in the monotypic genus Zebrilus.[2] It is found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical swamps.
  • Zigzag Heron Zebrilus undulatus

    Cornell Species Account
    The Zigzag Heron is an enigmatic, poorly-known little heron of swampy forest. Adults are very dark overall, gray heavily marked with narrow black vermiculations.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 66

Useful Reading
  • Shorebirds

    Shorebirds (WorldLife Library) by Des Thimpson, Ingvar Byrkjedal 2001 ISBN: 1841070750 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • The Herons

    by James A Kushlan & James A Hancock [Illustrated by David Thelwell] OUP 2005 ISBN: 0198549814 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • The Herons Handbook

    by James Hancock and James Kushlan Paintings by Robert Gillmor and Peter Hayman - Groom Helm 1984 ISBN: 0709937164 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Organisations
  • Western Atlantic Shorebird Association

    Website
    The first research project to be part of WASA is the International Banding Project which is being led by Professor Allan Baker, Canada and Patricia M. Gonz

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