The black-headed heron (Ardea melanocephala) is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, common throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. It is mainly resident, but some west African birds move further north in the rainy season.

This species usually breeds in the wet season in colonies in trees, reedbeds or cliffs. It builds a bulky stick nest, and lays 2–4 eggs.

It often feeds in shallow water, spearing fish or frogs with its long, sharp bill. It will also hunt well away from water, taking large insects, small mammals, and birds. It will wait motionless for its prey, or slowly stalk its victim.

The black-headed heron is a large bird, standing 85 cm tall, and it has a 150 cm wingspan. It is nearly as large as the grey heron, which it resembles in appearance, although it is generally darker. Its plumage is largely grey above, and paler grey below. It has a powerful dusky bill.



The flight is slow, with the neck retracted. This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes, and spoonbills, which extend their necks. The white underwing coverts are striking in flight.

The call is a loud croaking.
Black-headed Heron
Date Location Count
2021-03-03 23:31Lamin (Town)1
2021-02-11 07:00Mole NP--Samole Loop & waterhole1
2021-02-13 09:47Fulfoso-Damongo Rd., Damongo20
2021-02-07 07:37Densu Delta 1
2021-02-19 15:45Etosha NP--Andoni Plains2
2021-02-18 10:30Queen Elizabeth II NP--Ishasha sector 22
2021-02-20 11:26Ndali Lodge2
2021-02-19 07:15Queen Elizabeth II NP--Lake Bunyampaka2
2021-02-19 11:19Chimpanzee Guesthouse1
2021-02-24 09:05Kibale Forest NP--North end2
2021-02-09 16:22Lake Kamweru2
2021-02-10 07:55Kibale Forest NP2
2021-02-23 08:03Bigodi Swamp2
2021-02-22 08:30Bigodi Community Walk1
2021-02-05 07:29Kibale Forest Camp1
2021-02-26 10:30Murchison Falls NP--Woodland savannah1
2021-02-15 08:18Lake Mburo NP--Nyarutegura River Mouth2
2021-02-09 06:41Akagera Np -- Mohana Plain and Lake Rwanyakazinga Picnic Site1
2021-02-20 17:46Akagera NP (southern area)4
2021-02-08 08:30Mabamba Swamp--Main channel1
2021-02-20 16:28Entebbe Botanical Garden1
2021-02-06 10:05Uganda Wildlife Education Centre2
2021-02-28 07:42Lutembe Bay Ramsar Site1
2021-02-16 09:15Lake Victoria--Mfangano Island1
2021-02-14 11:15Paternoster to St Helena Bay1
2021-03-03 06:23Angama Lodge (Ol Kurruk)1
2021-02-23 14:00Maasai Mara NR--Mara Triangle9
2021-03-01 16:40Serengeti NP--Seronera Pond25
2021-02-06 07:10Maasai Mara NR, Eastern Section1
2021-03-01 09:09West Coast NP--Geelbek hides vicinity1
2021-03-01 07:15West Coast NP--Geelbek Salt Pans1
2021-03-02 17:22St Andrews Turi, KE (-0.279, 35.764)1
2021-02-28 12:19Beaverlac1
2021-02-06 14:22Lake Ol Bolossat, Nyahururu1
2021-02-15 12:42Rietvlei Wetlands Reserve1
2021-02-05 16:11Lake Naivasha--Lake Oloidon1
2021-03-03 16:30Intaka Island1
2021-02-09 11:00Rondevlei Nature Reserve1
2021-02-03 08:00Lake Naivasha--Crescent Camp2
2021-02-28 13:40Ngorongoro Conservation Area--Ngorongoro Crater3
2021-03-02 12:15Strandfontein WTP1
2021-02-07 10:56Lentorre Lodge
2021-03-04 10:14Paardevlei1
2021-02-26 09:05South Luangwa NP--Mfuwe Lodge1
2021-02-26 14:31Tarangire NP--Entrance Gate1
2021-02-21 07:06Nairobi NP
2021-02-20 10:11Dandora WTP, Ruai1
2021-02-19 08:00Bulawayo--Aisleby Sewage Works1
2021-02-21 09:00Magongo Hills10
2021-03-02 15:42Meru NP
2021-02-27 06:40Kimana Sanctuary1
2021-02-10 05:08Greengrove Dam1
2021-02-04 20:40Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve1
2021-02-26 05:49Kgomo-Kgomo1
2021-02-28 05:54Wolfhuiskraal to Kgomo-Kgomo1
2021-03-04 10:25Tsavo East NP--Ngutuni Safari Lodge and Wildlife Sanctuary
2021-02-06 17:43Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve2
2021-02-13 06:25Nylsvley Nature Reserve--Vogelfontein1
2021-02-12 17:19Diepsloot Nature Reserve3
2021-02-04 16:11Lower Galana River, Tsavo East NP1
2021-02-19 08:00Eagle Canyon Golf Estate2
2021-02-20 12:51Dainfern1
2021-02-22 11:17Golden Harvest Park1
2021-02-18 11:23University of Pretoria--Experimental Farm1
2021-02-20 06:33Roodeplaat Dam Nature Reserve1
2021-02-03 06:45Naturena5
2021-02-06 11:52Modderfontein Reserve1
2021-02-14 14:00Rietvlei Nature Reserve
2021-02-14 06:14Mkhombo Nature Reserve1
2021-02-14 06:20Thokoza Wetland1
2021-02-14 11:19Knysna--Thesen Island waterfront1
2021-02-15 15:51Plettenberg Bay--Uplands Road1
2021-02-05 06:44Garingboom Guest Farm2
2021-02-12 07:48Bitou River Valley1
2021-02-13 06:26Marievale Bird Sanctuary--Hadeda Hide1
2021-02-25 08:05Keurbooms River Estuary1
2021-02-11 10:20Ramisi Sugar Dam1
2021-02-27 07:34Devon Grasslands IBA (Gauteng Province)1
2021-02-07 08:40Nguuni Nature Sanctuary1
2021-02-27 08:35Devon Grasslands IBA (Mpumalanga Province)1
2021-02-21 10:24Haller Park--Bamburi Nature Trail2
2021-02-06 10:34Mida Creek1
2021-02-19 07:20Kruger NP--Punda Gate Road/H13-11
2021-02-14 10:57Lower Tana River Delta
2021-02-15 06:30Leeupan (Mpumalanga Province)5
2021-02-25 17:00Kruger NP--Sirheni Bushveld Camp1
2021-02-20 15:28Wonderfontein Pans1
2021-02-11 06:27Hazyview--Kruger Park Lodge2
2021-02-11 05:13Singita Ebony Lodge2
2021-02-07 16:04Wakkerstroom area (Please be more specific)1
2021-02-15 06:54Wakkerstroom bridge/causeway1
2021-02-28 07:00Happy Valley Road4
2021-02-11 13:46Hlane Royal NP--Ndlovu Camp1
2021-02-28 05:39Karkloof--Conservancy5
2021-02-07 06:23Midmar Dam--South Shore (Thurlow Gate)2
2021-02-20 06:50Cedara Agricultural College Conservancy2
2021-02-04 06:43Hilton--Doreen Clark NR1
2021-02-20 17:02Pietermaritzburg--Waltdorf Estate1
2021-02-10 07:55KaMsholo Bushveld Safaris (formerly Nisela Safaris)1
2021-02-28 09:00Macaneta-- Wetland, dune forests and coast3
2021-02-13 07:08Pietermaritzburg--Bisley Valley NR2
2021-03-02 07:31Pietermaritzburg--Darvill Resources Park6
2021-02-14 08:47Tala Private GR12
2021-02-23 14:00Ridgeside Reservoir1
2021-02-05 12:43Mdloti Lagoon1
2021-02-21 06:20Sibaya Coastal Forest Reserve2
2021-02-23 05:00Phinda GR1
2021-03-03 11:00Mpempe Pan
2021-02-28 06:30Nibela Floodplains
2021-02-27 07:30St Lucia--iMfolozi River mouth