Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-bellied Heron (Ardeola rufiventris)


French: Crabier à ventre roux German: Rotbauchreiher Spanish: Garcilla ventrirroja

Ardea rufiventris


, 1850,

Mooi River, near Potchefstroom, North West Province, South Africa


Frequently placed in genus Butorides. Monotypic.


Uganda and Kenya S to KwaZulu-Natal (E South Africa) and W to Angola, N Namibia and N Botswana.

Descriptive notes

38–39 cm. Much darker than other Ardeola; larger, thicker-necked, longer-winged and heavier-billed than Butorides striata; E. ardesiaca is... read more


Vocalizations include a crow-like “kar” and croaking or rasping “kraak”, as well as a “cherr-cherr... read more


Seasonally flooded grassland, marshes and floodplains; shallow water along riverbanks, lakeshores,... read more

Food and feeding

Small fish (e.g. Barbus and Tilapia spp.), frogs, crustaceans, aquatic insects and worms. Apparently mostly uses passive... read more


During rains or floods: Apr–May in Angola and Uganda; Dec–Jan in Zaire; Dec–Aug (peak Mar) in Zambia; year-round in... read more


Basically sedentary, with some movements connected with seasonal flooding: occurs at L Bangweulu... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Local and generally scarce or rare (e.g. in Angola), but appears to be expanding its range in Kenya and Tanzania, with population in... read more

Recommended citation

Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Rufous-bellied Heron (Ardeola rufiventris). 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 7 April 2020).