Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath)


French: Héron goliath German: Goliathreiher Spanish: Garza goliat

Ardea goliath


, 1829,

Bahr el Abiad = White Nile




Africa S of Sahara; SW Saudi Arabia, SW Yemen, Iraq and S Iran; recorded (and breeding inferred) at scattered sites in Indian Subcontinent from Pakistan to Bangladesh and S into Sri Lanka.

Descriptive notes

135–150 cm; 4310–4468 g; wingspan 210–230 cm. Sexes alike, although female is generally smaller and has shorter bill. Largest heron, with large and very... read more


Most typical is a deep, raucous “kowoorrk-kowoorrk-woorrk-work-worrk” of up to seven notes that can... read more


Normally near water, fresh or salt; frequently found in shallow water along lakeshores, also... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly large fish (e.g. mullet Mugil, tilapia Sarotherodon, barbel Barbus, bream Acanthopagnus, carp... read more


Normally during rains; in some places all year, e.g. S Africa (Zimbabwe and Zambia); on occasions does not breed each year, but only when... read more


Sedentary; dispersive or nomadic movements in some areas in response to seasonal changes in... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). No overall estimate of population, but 2500–4000 birds in Tanzania. Generally frequent throughout Africa, locally common, e.g.... read more

Recommended citation

Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath). 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 6 April 2020).