Goliath Heron | Ardea goliath

Robert's Birding Information: Goliath Heron

The Goliath Heron is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Ardeidae bird family group which includes birds such as Egrets, Herons, Bitterns.

Goliath Heron in kruger national parkThe description for the Goliath Heron (Latin name Ardea goliath) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Ardea goliath can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 64 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 590. You will find a picture of the Goliath Heron on page 592.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

There have been no changes in the common name between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Goliath Heron between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition.

The Goliath Heron is known in Afrikaans as Reusereier.

The Goliath Heron has a height of 135 cms and weighs around 4300 gms. The head is coloured chestnut while the bill is coloured black. The Ardea goliath has a chestnut coloured throat, black legs and a brown coloured back. The eyes are yellow.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is chestnut.

Eyes are yellow.

Bill is black.

Legs are black.

Throat is chestnut.

Back is brown.

This bird has long legs i.e. legs the length of which are out of proportion to the bird's body size. This can be a useful identification guide (e.g. with the Lapwings).

Photo's & Differentiating Between Male, Female & Juveniles

Please click the images below to make them larger:

Male Adult Adult Goliath Heron
Female Adult Same as above
Juvenile Similar to above
Non Breeding Plumage N/A

Goliath Heron Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground.

This bird has a specially adapted bill which helps it hunt for fish, crabs, shrimp and other aquatic animals in the water.

This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten.

Goliath Heron Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Goliath Heron is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 2 to 5 eggs and they are coloured blue.

The nest is built high up in the tree canopy and is protected from predators by branches and the dense green foliage.

The bird builds its nest on the ground with figs, straw and leaves. The nest is placed under a bush to protect the young from predators.

The Goliath Heron is found in the Southern African wetlands, riverine forests and moist grasslands.

The bird is at home in riverine forests and close to water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams.

You can see the Goliath Heron bird on coastal regions and on the sea shore where the bird will be foraging with other birds.

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Goliath Heron is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.