Birda Logo
Features
Birda+
About
Species Guide
Challenges
Shop
loading...
A photo of a Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath)
Goliath Heron

Goliath Heron

Ardea goliath

The Goliath heron, known also as the giant heron, stands as the largest extant heron on Earth. With a statuesque height ranging from 120 to 152 cm and a wingspan stretching between 185 to 230 cm, this bird is a formidable presence in its aquatic realm. Weighing in at 4 to 5 kg, it is a sight to behold, with a slate gray and chestnut plumage that is both striking and elegant.

Identification Tips

The adult Goliath heron is adorned with a chestnut head and crest, a white chin, throat, and upper breast marked with black streaks, and a buff lower breast and belly also with black streaks. Its back and upper wings are slate-grey, accented by a chestnut shoulder patch visible when the wings are folded. The under-wing presents a paler chestnut hue. Its bill is a formidable weapon, the upper mandible jet black, while the lores and orbital areas are a yellow tinged with green. The eyes are a piercing yellow, and the legs and feet are a stark black. In flight, the Goliath heron carries its legs trailing behind, a characteristic that distinguishes it from its heron kin.

Habitat

The Goliath heron is a creature of the water, favoring lakes, swamps, mangrove wetlands, and sometimes river deltas. It is most at home in shallow waters, though it can be observed near deeper waters with dense vegetation. Its preference for pristine wetlands means it is often found far from human disturbance, from sea level up to elevations of 2,100 meters.

Distribution

This majestic bird graces the landscapes of sub-Saharan Africa, with smaller, declining populations in Southwest and South Asia.

Behaviour

A solitary and territorial bird, the Goliath heron is a diurnal feeder, often seen standing motionless in the shallows, waiting to spear fish with its powerful bill. It may also use its bill as a lure to attract fish. Despite its size, it is vulnerable to kleptoparasitism, with other birds such as African fish eagles known to steal its catch.

Song & Calls

The Goliath heron's call is a deep and resonant "kowoork," which can be heard up to 2 km away. It also emits a sharper "arrk" when disturbed, and a "huh-huh" during a crouched posture. With its neck extended, a "krooo" may be heard, and duetting at nest sites has been reported but not confirmed.

Breeding

Breeding season aligns with the onset of the rainy season, with nests built on islands or vegetation islands. The nests are large but flimsy, and the pale blue eggs are incubated for 24 to 30 days. Fledglings leave the nest at around five weeks and are tended to by parents for up to 80 days.

Similar Species

The Goliath heron may be confused with the purple heron due to some plumage similarities, but the latter is significantly smaller.

Diet and Feeding

The Goliath heron's diet consists almost entirely of fish, specializing in large specimens averaging 500 to 600 grams. It may also consume other small animals such as frogs, prawns, and occasionally carrion.

Conservation status

The Goliath heron is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that, for now, this species is not at immediate risk of decline.

App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Goliath Heron Fun Facts

Did you know?
The Goliath Heron is the largest of the Heron species with a height of up to 152 cm (5 ft), a wingspan of up to 230 cm (7 ft 7 in) and a weight of up to 5 kg (11.0 lb).

Goliath Herons on Birda

Sightings

More Herons, Bitterns

A photo of a Agami Heron (Agamia agami)

Agami Heron

Agamia agami
Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Alex J
Friendly and helps to identify birds
Great birding app, good for logging your sightings, also has nice species guide. I'm enjoying the social aspect more than I expected, everyone seems friendly and helps to identify unknown birds. Good mix of newbies and experienced users.
Pdydhdrexgi
Fantastic App
This is a really lovely app, for everyone interested in birds - from newbies to old hands. There is a very friendly feel to the community and you will genuinely learn a lot as you record your sightings and photos. There are lots of badges and competitions to keep you engaged, and a host of really useful features.
Sacha0508
Simply fantastic
I love this app, it puts so much fun into recording the birds I’ve seen and heard while I’m out and about. The interface is user-friendly and suitable for all ages. It’s great to collect badges and to review my β€œlists”.
Robred 2
Fun way to add to your birdwatching experience
I enjoy watching birds in my backyard, but this app helped me really pay attention while on vacation this summer. It was fun to add new birds to my bird watching app.
Carl B
Helped me to identify more birds
Love this app and has helped me to identify more birds. The challenges and badges are great for keeping the motivation going to get out and keep birding.
Madstherangers
A mordern game changer
Birda is an awesome app, its updated the world of birding to the modern day with a fun and easy to use app. It’s engaging and allows positive interaction with fellow bird lovers!
Jane N
A great app
Enjoying it immensely and finding it useful too. Recording the different birds and counting them is showing me how the present climate is affecting them all. I've trebled the numbers by planting native hedging. A great app.
Leonie
We've been waiting for an App like this
Excellent! We've been waiting for an app like this! Thank you! It would be nice if you could assign additional birds to sessions later!
Safira V
Birding and wellbeing app
Birda is an excellent platform to share your love of Birding and is a great tool of encouragement for a Birding Beginner like me. Birda has a very kind and supportive community of Birding enthusiasts. For me BIRDA is not only a BIRDING but also a WELLBEING App.
Ellesse_W
Learning Birding with Birda
I’m relatively new to birding as a hobby, and Birda is a great way to keep track off all the species I see. I’m still working on my ID skills, but the app is great for figuring out potential species, and the online community is so friendly and helpful. Definitely recommend Birda to both early and serious birders! 🐦
As featured in
AboutPressAmbassadorsAffiliatesInfluencersCareersPrivacyTerms & Conditions
An app for birdwatchers
Giving back
Connect with us
Copyright Β© 2024 Chirp Birding. All rights reserved.