Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)


French: Crabier chevelu German: Rallenreiher Spanish: Garcilla cangrejera

Ardea ralloides


, 1769,

Carniola, west Slovenia


Closely related to A. grayii, A. bacchus and A. speciosa. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. r. ralloides (Scopoli, 1769) – SW & C Europe, and NW Africa (Morocco), E to region of Aral Sea and SE Iran; some N populations winter in Mediterranean area and Middle East, but main wintering areas are in tropical sub-Saharan Africa.
  • A. r. paludivaga Clancey, 1968 – Africa S of Sahara, and Madagascar.
  • Descriptive notes

    42–47 cm; 230–370 g; wingspan 80–92 cm. Over most of its range, this species is the only Ardeola. Appears mainly brownish buff at rest, but... read more


    Considered to be mainly silent, but a shrill, harsh-sounding “karr” is mainly heard at dusk,... read more


    Wide variety of preferably freshwater wetland habitats, including swampy plains, river valleys,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insect larvae (mayflies, dragonflies and flies), with some fish (Scardinus, Cyprinus, Carassius, ... read more


    Apr–Jul in Eurasia and N Africa; mainly during rains in Africa S of Sahara (except in W Africa, where many records of nesting during... read more


    Palearctic populations migratory and dispersive: in Europe, post-breeding dispersal of juveniles... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). In Palearctic, population has shown marked fluctuations (see Family Text), with marked decrease between c. 1920 and 1940, due to... read more

    Recommended citation

    Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides). 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 20 February 2020).