Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Whistling Heron (Syrigma sibilatrix)


French: Héron flûte-du-soleil German: Pfeifreiher Spanish: Garza chiflona

Ardea sibilatrix


, 1824,

Brazil and Paraguay


Formerly placed with night-herons, but behaviour and morphology suggest closer affiliation to day-herons. Validity of race fostersmithi sometimes questioned. Two subspecies normally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. s. fostersmithi Friedmann, 1949 – E Colombia (NE from Meta) and N & C Venezuela (E to Monagas).
  • S. s. sibilatrix (Temminck, 1824) – Bolivia to SE Brazil and NE Argentina (S to Buenos Aires).
  • Descriptive notes

    50–64 cm; 370–546 g. Frequents drier habitats than many other sympatric species of herons. Crown dark to slate-black with several elongated plumes, tipped white... read more


    A distinctive, far-carrying, melodious whistle, rendered “kee” or a well-spaced “kee, kee, kee”,... read more


    One of the least aquatic of Ardeidae, normally occupies open, wet grasslands. In Argentina often... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly arthropods, including spiders, flying insects, mantis, dragonfly and beetle larvae, locusts, other invertebrates, earthworms, frogs... read more


    Apr–Sept in N; varies with population in S, Sept–Jan in SE Brazil, peaks Jan in Uruguay. Displays include an aerial peformance... read more


    Sedentary; some local movements, connected with variations in local conditions. N populations may... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common, but distribution patchy, although it appears to be spreading N across the Brazilian Cerrado and perhaps elsewhere in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Whistling Heron (Syrigma sibilatrix). 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 21 February 2020).