Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana)

Great-billed Heron

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Ardeidae | [latin] Ardea sumatrana | [authority] Raffles, 1822 | [UK] Great-billed Heron | [FR] Heron typhon | [DE] Russreiher | [ES] Garza de Sumatra | [NL] Sumatraanse Reiger


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Ardea sumatrana OR, AU Southeast Asia to n Australia


Best known of the typical herons are the very large, long-legged and long-necked, plain-hued, crested members of the genus Ardea The species of the Ardeidae (heron) family are mainly tropical birds, but they have spread out all over the world and occupy all but extremely high latitudes and elevation. Most members of this almost worldwide group breed colonially in trees, building large stick nests. Northern species such as Great Blue, Grey and Purple Herons may migrate south in winter, although the first two do so only from areas where the waters freeze. These are powerful birds with large spear-like bills, long necks and long legs, which hunt by waiting motionless or stalking their prey in shallow water before seizing it with a sudden lunge. They have a slow steady flight, with the neck retracted as is characteristic of herons and bitterns; this distinguishes them from storks, cranes, and spoonbills, which extend their necks

Physical charateristics

Dark grey-brown with a paler throat and grey legs. Breeding plumage silvery on the foreneck, crest and back. Immature is browner and with no crest.

Listen to the sound of Great-billed Heron

[audio: Heron.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Iain Woxvold

wingspan min.: 185 cm wingspan max.: 230 cm
size min.: 100 cm size max.: 115 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 60 days
fledging min.: 66 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Oriental Region, Australasia : Southeast Asia to North Australia. Coasts of SE Asia, Malay Archipelago and Australian region


Its habitats are largely coastal such as islands, coral reefs, mangroves, large rivers. However, occasionally, it can be found inland in shallow ponds.


In solitary pairs spaced about 1 km apart, principally in spring and autumn. Nest deep in the mangroves in a fork, building a stick platform lined by finer twigs and leaves. Lays two eggs .

Feeding habits

It feeds in shallow water, spearing fish with its long, sharp bill. It will wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim.

Video Great-billed Heron


copyright: J. del Hoyo


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Great-billed Heron status Least Concern


Sedentary with some post-breeding dispersal

Distribution map

Great-billed Heron distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *