Goliath Heron

Ardea goliath

Weighing in at between 4 and 5kg and standing up to 1.5m high with a wingspan of over 2.3m, the Goliath Heron is the biggest of its kind.

Goliath Herons are found along large rivers, dams, swamps, lakes and estuaries, usually lined with extensive stands of reeds or papyrus, where they prey on fairly large fish, frogs, crabs and small reptiles and mammals. Despite their large size, Goliath Herons often loose their prey to African Fish Eagles. They readily wade into fairly deep water well away from the shore and will mostly fly over the water along watercourses rather than over land. Monogamous pairs usually nest alone, although sometimes in loosely associated colonies (also with other species of herons), in large nests built of sticks or reeds in trees, reedbeds or on rocky islands. in South Africa nesting has been recorded throughout the year, with a peak in spring. Clutches usually consist of 4 or 5 eggs, incubated for between 3 and 4 weeks with the hatchlings leaving the nest at about 5 weeks of age but being cared for by the parents for up to another three months.

Goliath Herons can be found on the wetter eastern parts of South Africa and along the Orange River in the dry west of the country, and further occurs over most of Africa south of the Sahara and in a few spots in Asia and the Middle-East. They are considered of Least Concern by the IUCN.

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