Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Javan Pond-heron (Ardeola speciosa)


French: Crabier malais German: Prachtreiher Spanish: Garcilla indonesia

Ardea speciosa


, 1821,



Closely related to A. ralloides, A. grayii and A. bacchus. Perhaps also close to A. idae. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. s. continentalis Salomonsen, 1933 – C Thailand and S Indochina; winters S to Malay Peninsula (precise distribution uncertain, in part due to difficulties in identification).
  • A. s. speciosa (Horsfield, 1821) – W & C Indonesia (Greater Sundas, Sulawesi and satellites, and Lesser Sundas E to Flores) and S Philippines (Mindanao).
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 45 cm; wingspan 81 cm. Sexes apparently alike. In breeding plumage has pale golden-yellow head, crest and neck, with two long buff-white crest plumes, elongated slate-... read more


    Poorly documented; gives harsh “krak” when disturbed and squawking sound in flight, but also a soft... read more


    Mainly freshwater swamps, ponds, lakes, paddyfields and other flooded areas; less often in coastal... read more

    Food and feeding

    Fish, frogs, tadpoles and aquatic insects; also grasshoppers, beetles, ants, termites and earthworms. Passive feeder (principal methods... read more


    Little known. In W Java apparently breeds Jan–Aug, in E Java Dec–May; in Kalimantan (S Borneo), eggs in Apr and active colony... read more


    Mainly resident, with some local movements, e.g. now regular in S Philippines (on Mindanao) between... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Global population estimated to be within the range of 6700–67,000 mature individuals, with perhaps 25,000 in mainland SE Asia.... read more

    Recommended citation

    Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Javan Pond-heron (Ardeola speciosa). 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 25 February 2020).