Fun Goliath Heron Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 11, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Goliath Heron facts are interesting.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.6 Min

The Goliath heron is a wading bird and the world's largest bird of the Heron species (Ardea). This bird is found in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly from Egypt to South Africa.

Apart from Africa, this bird is also found in south-west and South Asia. It is quite easy to identify a Goliath heron even though it shares similar plumage with a purple heron, which is smaller in size.

The great-billed heron and white-billed heron are also quite large, and these three birds are together referred to as the 'giant herons'.

The Goliath heron is known for its peculiar characteristics, such as its solitary nature. The bird is also known for preferring an aquatic habitat and for its extremely slow movement and actions.

Keep reading for more amazing facts about the Goliath heron bird! If you liked this article with facts about the Goliath heron, check out our other articles with fascinating facts about tricolored herons and grey herons.

Goliath Heron Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Goliath heron?

A Goliath heron is a type of Heron bird.

What class of animal does a Goliath heron belong to?

The Goliath heron (Ardea goliath) belongs to the Aves class of animals, with its order being Pelecaniformes and the family Ardeidae.

How many Goliath herons are there in the world?

The exact population of Goliath herons in the world has not yet been recorded by scientists. However, they feel that the bird is found abundantly in its range in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as in southwest and South Asia, so their population is quite stable.

Where does a Goliath heron live?

Goliath herons are primarily found in the Sub-Saharan African range from southern Egypt to South Africa. Smaller populations of the bird are also found in the Middle East and South Asia.

What is a Goliath heron's habitat?

The Goliath heron is an extremely aquatic bird and prefers a range of aquatic habitats such as lakes, mangrove wetlands, reefs, swamps, and even river deltas. They can be found in low bushes and shallows during feeding but are also found in dense floating vegetation habitats.

They avoid regions where humans might intrude and do not go far from a water source. They prefer to build their nest in islands of vegetation during breeding.

Who do Goliath herons live with?

Goliath herons are mostly solitary animals who prefer to live and feed on their own. However, during the breeding season, these birds may be seen in pairs.

How long does a Goliath heron live?

Goliath herons usually live for approximately 15 years in the wild. There has also been a record of a goliath heron living for almost 23 years in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of these birds coincides with the rainy season. However, in some areas, breeding may occur throughout the year.

In South Africa, breeding is seen to occur bi-annually. Goliath herons prefer to build their nest on islands of vegetation at a low altitude.

They can build their nest on top of reeds, bushes, rocks, or tree stumps. They may build a solitary nest or even large colonies. Sometimes, they also join mixed-species colonies with other heron species, gulls, or cormorants.

The eggs of the bird are pale blue, and a female bird lays three to four blue eggs on average. The incubation period for the eggs lasts for 24 to 30 days, and the nestlings are fed through regurgitation while in the nest.

After a few weeks, they learn how to use their bills and defend themselves. The young birds leave the nest completely after five weeks, but the parents continue to look after them for 40 to 80 days.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has categorized the Goliath heron to be of Least Concern in their conservation Red List. This indicates that the population of the bird is quite stable in Africa as well as in Asia.

Goliath Heron Fun Facts

What do Goliath herons look like?

The male and female Ardea goliath birds look similar with their slate gray and chestnut feathers. The head, face, back, and sides of the neck are chestnut colored.

Their crest on the head is also chestnut-colored, while their neck has a more variety of colored feathers. The chin, throat, front neck, and upper breast are white. There are black marks across the upper and lower breast, the frontal part of the neck, and the belly.

The back and upper wings are gray with a chestnut-colored patch on their shoulder. Their upper mandible, legs, and feet are black, while their eyes are yellow.

A Goliath heron near the bank of a water body.

How cute are they?

Goliath herons (Ardea goliath) are not very cute if judged by the usual standards since they are not very colorful and their bill is huge. However, some might find them to be cute.

How do they communicate?

Goliath herons (Ardea goliath) communicate with each other primarily through audio and tactile stimuli. They use a loud squawk sound which resembles the 'kowoork' sound and can be heard within a range of 1.2 mi (2 km).

When disturbed or threatened, they make a sharper and higher-pitched sound. They also make a variety of sounds while crouching or extending their necks. In some of their nest sites, duet sounds that resemble organ music have been heard but scientists have not confirmed it yet.

How big is a Goliath heron?

The Goliath heron (Ardea goliath) is the world's largest heron bird. They can grow as tall as 3.9-4.9 ft (1.2-1.5 m) in height. The average length of their wingspan is around 6.5 ft (2 m).

A whale shark is almost 10 times the size of a goliath heron as it can reach up to 40 ft (12 m) in length.

How fast can a Goliath heron run?

The Goliath heron (Ardea goliath) mostly uses flight rather than running on its legs for travel. The Goliath heron is a very passive animal who prefers standing on the ground for a long time while feeding or searching for food.

Goliath herons can fly very long distances, but they fly very slowly with heavy wingbeats.

While flying, their legs are situated at an angle below the body in contrast to other herons whose legs are held horizontally. The goliath heron is also a quick-thinking bird, and it manages to fly away before its predators like hyenas or jackals can hunt it down.

How much does a Goliath heron weigh?

A goliath heron (Ardea goliath) usually weighs between 8.8-11 lb (4-5 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no distinct names for male and female types of the Goliath heron species. Consequently, they are denoted as male and female Goliath herons.

What would you call a baby Goliath heron?

A baby Goliath heron does not have a separate, unique name. Most scientists refer to baby birds as nestlings, so a baby Goliath heron can also be referred to as a nestling.

What do they eat?

The Goliath heron (Ardea goliath) follows the usual method of hunting among large Heron birds. During hunting, they can be seen standing in shallow waters looking at their feet. They can also forage in deep waters, looking for prey.

They eat large fish and catch around two to three in a day. They prefer to eat large fish like breams, tilapia fish, carp, and mullet. Apart from large fish, they may also eat smaller animals such as rats, frogs, snakes, insects, prawns, and lizards.

When their prey appears, goliath herons quickly open their bill and spear it with their mandibles, and then swallow. Scientists think that the bird attracts fish by using its bill as bait.

Are they dangerous?

The Goliath heron is not known for being a dangerous predator. This large, wading bird is a very passive hunter who stands on the ground for a long time while looking for food.

Due to its large size and strong bill, an adult goliath heron does not have many avian predators. Animals like hyenas and jackals hunt down the bird as prey before it can take flight.

Would they make a good pet?

A Goliath heron is a huge, wading bird of the Heron family and is essentially a wild bird that lives in a natural environment. Therefore, they would not make good pet birds.

Did you know...

Goliath herons are a non-migratory species, so they do not migrate for adaptation purposes. However, they may move to more favorable sites where it is easier to hunt prey and find fish if required. This is similar to grey herons.

Goliath herons are nocturnal feeders, and they are active during the night when they are standing on the ground. They hunt during the day as well but often do not sleep at night and look for food instead. They typically sleep in high nests in trees.

What is the biggest heron?

The goliath heron is the world's largest heron bird. The Bennu heron was larger than the Goliath heron, but it is now extinct. Therefore, the goliath heron is the biggest type of the family Ardeidae currently found on Earth.

Why are herons always alone?

Goliath herons are mostly solitary birds during the non-breeding season and are almost always alone due to their unique behavior and temperament. In addition to that, they are very protective of their territories and become quite aggressive when other goliath herons encroach upon their feeding territory.

At times, two birds of this species might be seen together, but it can be assumed that they are a breeding pair or juvenile birds.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including Goshawk or Pine siskin.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Goliath heron coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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