Fun Black-headed Heron Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Feb 29, 2024 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Black-headed heron facts are interesting
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.9 Min

The black-headed heron (Ardea melanocephala) is a wading bird of the rainy season belonging to the Ardeidae family. Herons are large birds and are 33.4-36.2 in (84.8-92 cm) long . They are found in the damped areas of South Africa and Madagascar. Fond of swampy areas, they live near water bodies and move slowly. They prey on fishes and mammals. They do not migrate in general but during the breeding season, they fly towards the north.

The large birds have gray wings, blackheads with white underwing coverts, and long legs. They have a long neck and a prominent throat.  They are mainly monogamous in nature and seen in pairs or in groups of pairs on trees.

During the breeding season, they live in the colonies of the trees. The gestation period lasts up to 23-27 days where the black-headed heron gray female lays two eggs in most cases, might go up to four in some.

The adult birds have a specific way of communicating with their mates. They significantly call for the partners with an 'aaak' sound and mostly use nasal voices and clapping of their bills to call as well.

If you liked the Black-headed heron, you might want to know about the pelican and palm warbler.

Black-Headed Heron Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a black-headed heron?

The black-headed heron (Ardea melanocephala) is a bird. It belongs to the family Ardeidae.

What class of animal does a black-headed heron belong to?

Black-headed herons belong to the Aves class of animals. These South African birds are mostly fond of swampy places and are found in abundance during the rainy season.

How many black-headed herons are there in the world?

According to the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the African black-headed heron (Ardea melanocephala) with a long neck has an estimated population of 26,000,000 at the moment, including residing and breeding.

Where does a black-headed heron live?

This large dark wading bird is common throughout the southern and western range of Africa and in Madagascar. They live in the colonies of the forests of these areas. They are non-migratory in nature but are known to travel accordingly. They travel only in search of food or to find a suitable place to breed towards the north.

What is a black-headed heron's habitat?

Occurs in shallow water, this dark African bird has its natural habitat in the burnt grasslands of the savanna and in sub-Saharan Africa. These grasslands are mostly open and rich in grasses, feeding on worms. Apart from grasslands, they are found throughout wetlands and in the damped areas by lakes and rivers for hunting fishes and insects. The range of coastal areas is also their habitat and hence they are comfortable to sustain in both terrestrials as well as semi-aquatic conditions.

Who do black-headed herons live with?

Black-headed heron bird (Ardea melanocephala) occurs in abundance during the rainy season is mostly monogamous by nature. These large birds generally move towards the north in search of a mate. They are mainly seen in pairs in their nests or in groups of pairs in the colonies of sub-Saharan Africa.

How long does a black-headed heron live?

The species of these African birds are known to have a lifespan of around five years on average. This estimated lifespan is solely based on their experience of living in the wild including the residing and the breeding season.

How do they reproduce?

The black-headed heron bird, being monogamous by nature, has an interesting and unique way of mating and producing offsprings. These South African birds are a non-migratory bird but to avoid the extreme dry state of sub-Saharan Africa flies towards the north. The species of South African grey heron is fond of trees in swampy places and creates nests along the river or lakeside. These birds attract each other by showing different flight patterns. They accept each other by touching the bills and releasing loud nasal noises.

They mate in the nests, partially made for the chicks in the colonies of the tress in the savanna. They breed once a year and lays two to four eggs. The eggs are pale blue in color. The gestation period lasts up to 23-27 days. At the time of birth, these chicks are pale gray in color and have bright yellow eyes.  These chicks are mostly under the care of the adult female bird until the time of flight.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for conservation of nature (IUCN), the black-headed heron is listed under the category of Least Concern. They have a fairly estimated population of 26,00,000 at the current moment. Even though due to the change of habitats, these birds are affected as well, there has been an increasing trend in their population in their distribution range (southern Africa).

Black-Headed Heron Fun Facts

What do black-headed herons look like?

The black-headed/crowned heron is a water-affiliated species. Feeding mostly on the aquatic insects and mammals, these herons are mostly covered in gray, white and black. The heron is a large bird with a gray upper body. They have black flight feathers and gray wings. Apart from that, these species have white underwing coverts. This wading bird has a long neck that helps to feed on the prey. Along with that, a long pair of legs is observed. Feeding on grasses and fishes, these species have a white throat and prominent yellow eyes. They have a proper distribution of gray and white all over the wings, feathers, neck, and head.

Black-Headed Heron

How cute are they?

These aquatic feeding large species have certain prominent features making them extremely cute and attractive like a cardinal bird. The birds have a sharp bill along with a distinctive set of the white throat, black head, and gray flight wings. Their attractive features help them attract their mates during the breeding season by creating flight patterns in the sky.

How do they communicate?

These herons have different types of calls during different positions of their flight or landing. Generally, they call for their mate with a loud 'aaak' sound. Mostly their calls are nasal sounds. During landing, they have calls like  'kow, owk, errr, kut, kut, kut'. During the flight, it calls for a 'kaak'. The most common way of communicating for these birds is bill-clapping.

How big is a black-headed heron?

The black-headed heron (Ardea melanocephala) is a pretty large Sub-saharan bird that has an average length of 33.4-36.2 in (84.8-92 cm). These birds are a lot bigger than mockingbirds.

How fast can a black-headed heron fly?

Heron is a large bird having 59 in (149.8 cm) wingspan, has a moderate speed. Being non-migratory by nature, this species are restricting themselves to their habitats and fly only for food and mating. Due to the long neck, the speed is hindered and gets reduced.

How much does a black-headed heron weigh?

Black-headed herons have an average weight of 25-58.2 oz (708.7-1650 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male birds are generally referred to as cocks and females are referred to as hens. These south African birds, black-headed heron males, and females will be referred to as the same.

What would you call a baby black-headed heron?

The baby herons are known as chicks.

What do they eat?

Carnivores by nature like rufous hummingbird, the grey heron's diet include worms, flies. It feeds in shallow waters for large and small mammals. The bird's diet include the sub-aquatic creatures as well as fishes. They are know to slowly stalk and take catch their prey.

Are they poisonous?

Even though they hunt on the aquatic creatures and it feeds on worms, there has been no information of these birds being poisonous by nature just like a western kingbird.

Would they make a good pet?

Found throughout swampy habitats, these large birds are mostly terrestrial and are not known to be kept as pets.

Did you know...

The black-headed night heron is the closest relative to black-headed herons, which are mostly active at night or dusk, hence the name. They are mysterious by nature and are found in some parts of the UK.

Belonging to the order Pelecaniformes, the herons belong to the Chordata phylum.

Are black-headed herons endangered?

South African black-headed herons being listed in the section of Least Concern mean they are not endangered at the moment. So, they are not rare and are common throughout the southern range of Africa.

What is unique about the black-headed heron?

The black-headed heron (South Africa resident) has the ability to wade through the water bodies in search of food.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these swallow-tailed kite facts and night heron facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable 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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