Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Yellow-billed Egret (Ardea brachyrhyncha)


French: Héron à bec jaune German: Afrikamittelreiher Spanish: Garceta piquicorta

Herodias brachyrhynchus

A. E. Brehm

, 1854,

Blue Nile


Frequently placed in genus Egretta or sometimes in Mesophoyx, but DNA analyses indicate closer genetic link with Ardea#R. Hitherto considered conspecific with A. intermedia and A. plumifera (see under those species). Monotypic.


Africa S of Sahara, from Senegal E to N Sudan and S (avoiding Congo Basin and desert areas) to South Africa.

Descriptive notes

65–72 cm; wingspan 105–115 cm. Mid-sized, all-white egret, with extensive filamentous plumes on foreneck, breast and scapulars (the latter sometimes reaching beyond tail)... read more


No differences from A. intermedia have been described.


Very varied; mainly inland habitats with abundant emergent aquatic vegetation, including freshwater... read more

Food and feeding

Fish, normally less than 10 cm long, including eels, perch (Macquaria) and gudgeons (Eleotridae); also frogs, snakes, insects,... read more


Season very variable regionally: in Africa, during or just after rains, or in dry season, e.g. Jul–Oct in Senegal, Aug in Ethiopia, Mar–Aug... read more


Mainly sedentary, although some evidence of possible migration, e.g. one ringed in South Africa (... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern).Widespread and locally common, especially in E Africa, e.g. estimated 2000 pairs on Tana R, Kenya in 1983, and country-wide population... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Yellow-billed Egret (Ardea brachyrhyncha). 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 24 January 2020).