A shy inhabitant of the densely grown verges of freshwater habitats, the Squacco Heron feeds on a variety of small vertebrate and invertebrate aquatic animals. Squacco Herons’ movements are often dictated by the rains, following recent showers to suitable habitat. Adults weigh around 300g and measure approximately 43cm tip-to-tip.
Though they mostly forage singly, Squacco Herons form monogamous pairs when breeding and build their stick-platform nests in mixed colonies together with other Squacco Herons and other waterbirds in reedbeds or trees growing in and over the water. Their breeding season spans almost the whole year, peaking in spring and summer. The parents take turns to incubate the clutch of 2-4 eggs over a 3-4 week period. The chicks are cared for by both parents and, while they leave the nest when they’re about 5 weeks old, they won’t start to fly for another 3 weeks more thereafter.
The Squacco Heron is listed as being of least concern, with a stable population estimated at as many as 780,000 occuring over most of the African continent, southern Europe and western Asia. The species is patchily distributed in South Africa, with the biggest concentrations occurring in Gauteng and adjacent portions of neighbouring provinces, the Lowveld and coastal Kwazulu-Natal.