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
2021-07-05 09:52Etosha NP (Oshana Province)1
2021-07-20 13:43Windhoek--Avis Dam2
2021-07-20 08:55Liuwa Plain NP2
2021-07-08 08:12Semuliki NP1
2021-07-10 07:00Semuliki NP--Red Monkey and Hot Springs Trails1
2021-07-16 13:37Barotse Plains Causeway9
2021-07-10 11:40Queen Elizabeth II NP--Ishasha sector 21
2021-06-30 18:45Queen Elizabeth II NP--Mweya1
2021-07-04 09:10Bwindi (Town)1
2021-07-04 09:22Buhoma to 'The Neck'1
2021-07-10 08:57Queen Elizabeth II NP--Northern Sector1
2021-06-27 18:34Fort Portal (Town)1
2021-07-06 16:30Fort Portal wetlands2
2021-07-09 17:42Queen Elizabeth II NP1
2021-07-04 09:53Lake Karago1
2021-07-14 08:30Ruhija to 'The Neck'1
2021-07-18 09:05Bwindi-Impenetrable NP--Mubwindi Swamp2
2021-07-25 07:42Bwabwata National Park--Buffalo Core Area1
2021-07-26 07:22Bigodi Swamp2
2021-07-15 07:12Bigodi Community Walk5
2021-07-15 08:24Nyarutarama Lake and Golf Course1
2021-07-02 08:43Kamatana Dam1
2021-07-15 10:47UMUSAMBI VILLAGE - Wetlands and Grey Crowned Crane rehabilitation1
2021-07-03 08:00Murchison Falls NP--general area (please be more specific)1
2021-07-16 08:20Gashora Swamp1
2021-07-19 13:25Lake Mburo NP--Eland Track1
2021-07-17 09:00Lake Mburo NP--Entrance Road1
2021-07-08 07:03Lake Mburo NP1
2021-07-12 11:41Akagera Valley Dam1
2021-07-09 07:04Akagera NP (southern area)1
2021-06-27 10:42Bukoto Marsh2
2021-07-06 06:57Mabamba Swamp3
2021-07-23 15:00Entebbe WTP1
2021-07-11 11:50Island View Lodge1
2021-07-18 15:00Entebbe Botanical Garden2
2021-07-16 08:00Kidepo Valley NP--Karenga Gate to Apoka1
2021-07-04 10:53Lutembe Bay Ramsar Site1
2021-07-23 17:47Musekese Camp1
2021-07-03 10:00Nzoia River, Mumias1
2021-07-20 07:12Frangilla Lodge
2021-06-27 12:31Lake Victoria--Kendu Bay2
2021-06-27 08:30Kisumu Sewage Waste Recycling Centre1
2021-07-11 07:00Nyamware Rice Field3
2021-07-06 14:13Serengeti NP--Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp1
2021-07-03 13:30Shoebill Camp Site
2021-07-11 06:06Singita Sabora Tented Camp1
2021-06-28 17:33Singita Faru Faru Lodge1
2021-07-08 07:55Maasai Mara NR--Mara Triangle18
2021-07-25 06:28Masaai Mara NR--Mara River (North)10
2021-07-07 16:28Maasai Mara NR--Governor's Camp1
2021-06-27 16:22Maasai Mara NR--Musiara Swamp10
2021-06-30 06:30Maasai Mara NR* general (please use more precise location)1
2021-07-07 07:00Serengeti NP--Moru Kopjes
2021-07-06 07:00Serengeti NP--Seronera
2021-07-19 16:46Kiambi Lodge3
2021-07-21 16:20Kanyemba Island (Zambezi River/Kafue River Confluence)1
2021-07-16 08:12Serengeti NP14
2021-07-25 07:59St Andrews Turi, KE (-0.279, 35.764)1
2021-07-16 08:32Addis Ababa--Bole International Airport1
2021-07-07 10:33Lake Elementaita--Serena Camp (formerly Delamere Camp)1
2021-06-27 07:00Kikopey Hills1
2021-07-07 15:00Wondo Genet1
2021-07-14 08:30Lake Sonachi/Crater Lake2
2021-07-14 15:00Lake Naivasha--Lake Oloidon2
2021-07-12 12:19Lake Naivasha--Loldia House3
2021-07-21 07:35Yabello area1
2021-07-13 15:30Lake Naivasha2
2021-06-27 08:07Naivasha Town1
2021-07-18 08:53Ngorongoro Conservation Area--Ngorongoro Crater1
2021-07-15 14:29Mpala Ranch and Research Centre1
2021-07-19 06:34Mpala Research Centre--Labs1
2021-07-23 13:00Ol Pejeta Conservancy1
2021-07-24 16:30Ataye Wetlands6
2021-07-25 08:29Macassar Sewage Works1
2021-07-15 09:15Stellenboschberg--Lower Trail2
2021-07-16 16:53Manguo Swamp
2021-07-20 09:30Oloi Oshobor1
2021-07-18 08:08Nandi & Miotoni Roads1
2021-07-02 07:05Hotel Troy Nairobi2
2021-07-08 20:51Sigiri (Gigiri) Forest1
2021-07-07 08:28Nairobi River @ National Museums of Kenya (incl. Boulevard Hotel)1
2021-06-27 07:24Nairobi NP--Nagolomon Dam1
2021-07-14 17:16Wilson Airport1
2021-07-16 15:45Oaklands Estate2
2021-07-24 10:13Nairobi NP1
2021-07-08 06:15Samburu NR2
2021-07-11 06:50Buffalo Springs NR--Ashnil Samburu Camp2
2021-07-13 06:30Samburu NR--Elephant Bedroom Camp
2021-07-21 16:00Buffalo Springs NR2
2021-06-29 11:30Tarangire NP
2021-07-09 08:17Mogobane Reservoir11
2021-07-22 09:31Mwea Rice Fields30
2021-07-09 07:52Ruaha NP--Mwagusi Safari Camp1
2021-07-09 08:47Engikaret Lark Plains--Acacia Scrub to South1
2021-07-17 08:26Burka Coffee Estate1
2021-06-28 09:00Arusha NP
2021-07-16 08:55Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge1
2021-07-04 07:42Danish Forest1
2021-07-10 07:19Tungamalenga (village)1
2021-07-12 10:30Amboseli NP1
2021-07-04 08:30Mandegee farm1
2021-07-14 13:21Hekpoort vicinity1
2021-07-11 07:40Sanje Falls2
2021-07-10 13:26Mikumi NP1
2021-07-16 15:07Radium1
2021-07-09 13:10Magamba Nature Forest Reserve--Sekomu Trail1
2021-07-01 12:42Walkhaven Dog Park1
2021-07-03 07:57Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden2
2021-07-10 11:13Diepsloot Nature Reserve1
2021-07-09 16:21The Lakes Park1
2021-07-17 14:24Dainfern1
2021-07-24 12:25Golden Harvest Park1
2021-07-11 07:30Glen Austin Bird Sanctuary1
2021-06-27 08:30Rietvlei Nature Reserve1
2021-07-11 07:30Eikenhof3
2021-07-06 07:59Kempton Park1
2021-07-13 06:43OR Tambo International Airport2
2021-07-25 07:30Thokoza Wetland3
2021-07-10 12:14Bullfrog Dam2
2021-07-18 13:51Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve--northeast corner1
2021-07-02 07:04Emily Moon River Lodge
2021-07-20 14:41Marievale Bird Sanctuary1
2021-07-25 11:11Robberg Nature Reserve1
2021-07-09 07:20Kruger NP--Banyini Pan (ltd access)
2021-07-24 06:20Loskop Dam Nature Reserve2
2021-07-09 08:19Selous Game Reserve--Mtemere Gate
2021-07-24 10:35Nguuni Nature Sanctuary1
2021-07-19 15:37Mida Creek
2021-07-21 15:53Arabuko-Sokoke NP--Kenya Forest Service
2021-06-27 07:09Sabaki River Estuary
2021-07-19 08:30Leeupan (Mpumalanga Province)2
2021-07-22 06:34Pemba Paradise Resort2
2021-07-23 08:52Msuka Beach1
2021-07-14 09:18Kwandwe Private Game Reserve4
2021-07-25 12:10Macaneta-- Wetland, dune forests and coast4
2021-07-24 09:06Pietermaritzburg--Bisley Valley NR1
2021-07-03 14:50Pietermaritzburg--Darvill Resources Park1
2021-07-21 12:30Ridgeside Reservoir