The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Black Heron or Black Egret

Afrikaans name: Swartreier

Black Egret

The beautiful Black Heron

Photo © Riaan van den Berg - Fotolia.com

Egretta ardesiaca

The Black Heron, also known as the Black Egret, is well-known for its unusual method of hunting. It forms an umbrella, or canopy, with its wings to make a patch of shade which attracts fish. This hunting method may also be to prevent reflections or to hide the movements of the bird when it is about to strike.

They are not as common as the various species of herons with white plumage such as the Cattle Egret. The Black Heron is normally seen near water, particularly areas of shallow water.

The main food of this species is fish but it also eats insects and crustaceans.

Black Herons lay 2 to 4 dark blue eggs in a nest above water.

The distribution of the heron runs from northern South Africa through to the Sahara.

References and further reading

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1985 - Page: 51

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1993 - Page: 51

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 1993 - Page: 60

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 2011 - Page: 64

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Published: 1989 - Page: 51

Southern African Wildlife - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1989 - Page: 130

The Birds of South Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Published: 1949 - Page: 24

The Herons Handbook - Author: James Hancock and James Kushlan - Published: 1984 - Page: 101

Wading Birds of the World - Revised edition - Author: Eric and Richard Soothill - Published: 1989 - Page: 42

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 30

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1981 - Page: 39

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1975 - Page: 35

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 1984 - Page: 68

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 2000 - Page: 68

Questions and Answers - Birds of Southern Africa - Author: Deirdre Richards - Published: 1990 - Page: 21

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 2nd edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1957 - Page: 28

Birds of Southern Africa - Kruger National Park - Author: Kenneth Newman - Published: 1985 - Page: 16

Birds of the Transkei - Author: C.D. Quickelberge - Published: 1989 - Page: 31

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Published: 1987 - Page: 17

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Published: 1999 - Page: 9

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Published: 1991 - Page: 32

Freshwater Life - Author: C. Griffiths, J. Day & M. Picker - Published: 2015 - Page: 52

Ian Sinclairs Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair - Published: 1988 - Page: 56

Bird Atlas of Natal - Author: Digby Cyrus and Nigel Robson - Published: 1980 - Page: 43

A First Guide to South African Birds - 6th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1959 - Page: 173

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1975 - Page: 173

BirdLife South Africa


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