Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Black Heron (Egretta ardesiaca)


French: Aigrette ardoisée German: Glockenreiher Spanish: Garceta azabache

Ardea ardesiaca


, 1827,





Africa S of Sahara except Congo Basin and arid area around Kalahari; Madagascar.

Descriptive notes

42·5–66 cm; 270–390 g. Blackest member of Egretta, being all slaty black, with luxuriant, bushy crest formed of lanceolate plumes tinged bluish;... read more


Considered to be generally silent, other than low clucking sounds (context unknown) and harsh... read more


More common on fresh waters, shallow lakesides, rivers, ponds, marshes, flooded plains and rice... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly small fish (15–30 mm in size), but also crustaceans and aquatic insects. Catches prey by means of characteristic Canopy... read more


Generally peaks around onset of rains and period of flooding; laying Aug–Feb in Mali, Feb–Mar or May–Jun in Kenya,... read more


Sedentary, especially in E & C Africa, albeit with some local movements, presumably promoted by... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally scarce, though locally abundant, e.g. by L Victoria; patchy distribution, with overall population estimated at 25,000... read more

Recommended citation

Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Black Heron (Egretta ardesiaca). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 January 2020).