Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana)


French: Héron typhon German: Rußreiher Spanish: Garza de Sumatra
Other common names: Sumatran Heron

Ardea Sumatrana


, 1822,



Closely related to A. insignis. Validity of race mathewsae considered dubious; species often treated as monotypic. Two subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. s. sumatrana Raffles, 1822 – coasts of Myanmar, Thailand and S Vietnam S to Greater and Lesser Sundas, E to Philippines, W Papuan Is and lowland New Guinea (including Biak I) and Aru Is. Old reports from Nicobar Is unconfirmed#R.
  • A. s. mathewsae Mathews, 1912 – coastal N Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    100–115 cm; 1300–2600 g; wingspan 190 cm; bill c. 183 mm. Similar to wholly allopatric and very rare A. insignis, with more slender, slightly recurved... read more


    Considered to be very vocal, giving deep, guttural and resonant “Roaring” calls, transliterated as... read more


    Coastal, typically affecting mangroves (provided there are tall trees), tidal mudflats and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Little known. In Australia, mainly fish, also crabs and other crustaceans; mudskippers taken in Borneo. Large size and huge bill suggest... read more


    In any month in Australia, generally coinciding with monsoon, May–Jun in N, Sept–Jan in E; May–Jun (break in monsoon) in... read more


    Apparently sedentary, although some records away from breeding grounds may indicate some post-... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Previously considered Near Threatened. Widespread, but at low densities and species requires better protection of mature mangrove... read more

    Recommended citation

    Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana). 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 3 April 2020).