The Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath) is also known as the Giant Hero because it is the world’s largest heron. It is a very large wading bird found in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a few colonies in Asia.
The Goliath Heron is medium-grey with chestnut coloured feathers. Its head and crest, face, and the back and side of the neck are chestnut brown. Its chin, throat, and chest are white with black streaks across the neck and upper chest. Its beak, legs, and feet are black and its eyes are yellow.
It can grow to 120–152 centimetres (47–60 inches) tall with a wingspan of 185–230 centimetres (73–90 inches). It flies with its legs downwards, and not outstretched like other herons. It flies with its neck retracted into an S-shape.
The Goliath Heron likes wetlands, including shallow lakes, swamps, water holes, and reefs.
They are diurnal solitary foragers. They wade in water and spear fish with their large beaks. They swallow the fish whole. The Goliath Heron eats mainly fish, but it will also eat frogs, lizards, insects, and small mammals.
It builds a large nest. Females lay 2-5 pale blue eggs, which hatch after 24-30 days. The chicks are independent after about five weeks.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM