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
2020-11-19 17:42Bolanhas da Achada do Burro2
2020-10-31 07:32Etosha NP--Okaukuejo Camp1
2020-11-27 17:30Windhoek--Avis Dam1
2020-11-07 07:00Mountain Gorilla Nest Hotel1
2020-11-16 08:50Kibale Forest NP1
2020-11-08 06:44Kibale Guest Cottages1
2020-11-01 07:03Bigodi Swamp1
2020-11-20 09:47Bigodi Community Walk8
2020-11-14 06:34Kibale Forest Camp1
2020-11-26 07:32Ruhondo wetland1
2020-11-03 06:44Nyarutarama Lake and Golf Course
2020-10-29 06:00Nyandungu Wetland1
2020-10-29 07:12UMUSAMBI VILLAGE - Wetlands and Grey Crowned Crane rehabilitation
2020-10-29 06:00Karenge Bush Camp
2020-11-14 08:21Lutembe Beach and Wetlands1
2020-11-07 16:40Bahir Dar1
2020-11-21 05:49Angama Lodge (Ol Kurruk)1
2020-11-26 06:00Maasai Mara NR--Mara Triangle1
2020-11-15 09:02Maasai Mara NR--Musiara Swamp7
2020-11-17 07:07Serengeti NP--Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge10
2020-11-25 10:20Naretoi2
2020-11-15 06:49Mara Training Centre
2020-11-04 17:09Maasai Mara NR--Central section2
2020-11-13 10:08West Coast NP1
2020-10-30 09:09West Coast NP--West Coast Gate1
2020-11-07 09:50Sululta Plain1
2020-11-26 13:27Serengeti NP--Naabi Hill Gate2
2020-11-14 06:49Lake Elementaita Hot Spring1
2020-11-14 11:08Ngorongoro Conservation Area--Olduvai Gorge1
2020-11-04 12:40Rietvlei Wetlands Reserve1
2020-11-14 13:08Table Bay Nature Reserve--Milnerton Racecourse1
2020-11-21 10:19Riebeek-Kasteel (general area)1
2020-11-21 11:30Rondevlei Nature Reserve1
2020-11-20 13:11Zeekoevlei Nature Reserve1
2020-11-15 10:32Strandfontein WTP
2020-11-21 15:27Paardevlei1
2020-11-21 11:12Dick Dent Bird Sanctuary2
2020-11-25 06:37Helderberg Nature Reserve1
2020-11-08 10:40Manguo Swamp4
2020-10-30 08:12Karen Country Club1
2020-11-21 12:00Nairobi NP1
2020-11-10 15:50Lewa Wildlife Conservancy1
2020-11-01 07:38Rooisand Nature Reserve1
2020-11-14 12:59Samburu NR--Elephant Bedroom Camp
2020-11-03 07:15Buffalo Springs NR
2020-11-19 08:36Thika Wastewater Treatment Plant4
2020-11-07 11:30Tarangire NP--Silale Swamp1
2020-11-08 14:28Mwea Rice Fields1
2020-11-21 16:30Magongo Hills3
2020-11-18 08:17Arusha NP5
2020-11-12 16:43Momella Rd.--Usa River1
2020-11-21 10:12Amboseli NP1
2020-11-19 13:00Marlborough Vlei Sewage Works3
2020-11-17 14:03Harare--Monavale Vlei1
2020-11-11 07:59Mandegee farm1
2020-11-15 05:40Harare--Mukuvisi Woodlands1
2020-11-27 12:53Tsavo West NP--Kilaguni Lodge1
2020-11-19 06:53Roodekopjes Dam Nature Reserve2
2020-11-22 06:06Breedtsnek Pass1
2020-11-25 08:27Kilombero Swamp1
2020-11-26 07:16Mikumi NP2
2020-11-15 07:20Diepsloot Nature Reserve1
2020-11-01 07:30Dinokeng Game Reserve (Please be more precise)1
2020-11-20 08:11Wilderness NP--Malachite Hide1
2020-11-24 08:33University of Pretoria--Experimental Farm12
2020-11-15 06:05Candlewoods Wetland
2020-11-08 06:00Rietvlei Nature Reserve1
2020-11-26 06:37Norkem Park1
2020-11-08 05:45Mkhombo Nature Reserve1
2020-11-15 05:40Thokoza Wetland2
2020-10-31 06:51Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve1
2020-11-06 07:00Bitou River Valley1
2020-11-24 12:26Marievale Bird Sanctuary2
2020-11-24 11:43Marievale Bird Sanctuary--Hadeda Hide2
2020-11-13 07:00Piesang Valley and Estuary1
2020-11-13 08:16Devon Grasslands IBA (Gauteng Province)3
2020-11-22 07:19Mida Creek
2020-11-26 06:49Sabaki River Estuary
2020-11-14 10:41Ngezi Forest1
2020-10-29 09:10Msasani Slipway1
2020-11-06 07:32Dullstroom1
2020-11-20 05:11Hazyview--Kruger Park Lodge1
2020-11-15 05:25Wakkerstroom Lark Loop--Final 14 Km4
2020-11-21 07:17Happy Valley Nature Reserve3
2020-11-13 13:35Wakkerstroom Wetland Reserve2
2020-11-14 14:26Dirkiesdorp Plain1
2020-11-13 16:44Wakkerstroom - Yellow-breasted Pipit Fields (KZN)1
2020-11-17 11:27Kruger NP--Timfenheni Loop/S1211
2020-11-17 12:09Kruger NP--Malelane Gate (Crocodile River Bridge)1
2020-11-22 14:54Hawane Reservoir1
2020-11-21 12:43R600 - Winterton to Champagne Castle1
2020-11-23 06:04Himeville (town)1
2020-11-22 15:56Umzimkulu River Lodge1
2020-10-29 13:20Midmar Dam - North Shore (Main Gate)2
2020-11-15 05:50Macaneta-- Wetland, dune forests and coast4
2020-11-15 05:24Mount Moreland IBA1
2020-11-06 13:41Durban Botanical Gardens
2020-11-08 07:30Mpempe Pan1
2020-11-02 16:02Lago Muangue1