Black-headed Heron | Ardea melanocephala

Robert's Birding Information: Black Headed Heron

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

Blackheaded HeronThe description for the Black-headed Heron (Latin name Ardea melanocephala) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts birds of Southern Africa. The Ardea melanocephala can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 63 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 589. You will find a picture of the Black-headed 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 Black-headed Heron between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition.

The Grey Heron can often be confused with the Blackheaded Heron. The key to identifying these birds is all in the birds facial features and more specifically what the top of the head of the bird looks like. The Blackheaded Heron has a solid Black head whereas the Grey Heron has a black stripe on its head with a white background.

The Black-headed Heron is known in Afrikaans as Swartkopreier.

The Black-headed Heron has a height of 92 cms and weighs around 710 gms. The head is coloured black while the bill is coloured black. The Ardea melanocephala has a black 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 black.

Eyes are yellow.

Bill is black.

Legs are black.

Throat is black.

Back is brown.

Photo's & Differentiating Between Male, Female & Juveniles

Please click the images below to make them larger:

Male Adult Beautiful adult blackheaded heron
Female Adult Same as above
Juvenile Similar to above
Non Breeding Plumage N/A

Blackheaded Heron Feeding Habits ...

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

Blackheaded Heron Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

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 Black-headed Heron is found in the Southern African wetlands, riverine forests and moist grasslands.

You can see the Black-headed 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 Black-headed Heron is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.

It is also seen in flocks.