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Goliath Heron Ardea goliath
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Trend justification
The overall population trend is stable, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour This species is not migratory but may make local dispersive or nomadic movements in response to seasonal habitat changes (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding usually coincides with the start of the rains although in some areas the species breed in any month of the year (Kushlan and Hancock 2005) or only when conditions are most favourable (i.e. not every year) (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It is not a gregarious species (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and usually nests and forages in solitary pairs (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Occasionally it may also nest in small single- or mixed-species colonies (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005) and has been known to forage in larger flocks (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Habitat The species inhabits both coastal and inland (Kushlan and Hancock 2005) freshwater and saline waters (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005), showing a preference for (Kushlan and Hancock 2005) shallow water along the shores of lakes, rivers (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005) and lagoons (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Other suitable habitats include marshes, tidal estuaries, reefs, mangrove creeks (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and waterholes in woodland savanna (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). The species often forages away from the shore in deep water near floating vegetation (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of large fish 15-50 cm long although it will also take frogs, lizards, snakes, rodents, crabs, prawns and floating carrion (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The nest is a platform of sticks or reeds (del Hoyo et al. 1992) placed less than 3 m high in trees over water, on partly submerged trees, low bushes, mangroves, cliffs, sedges, papyrus, reeds (del Hoyo et al. 1992) or on bare ground (Kushlan and Hancock 2005), showing a preference for nest sites that are surrounded by water (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (e.g. islands or islands of vegetation in lakes) (Kushlan and Hancock 2005) but also utilising on riverbanks and lakeshores (Kushlan and Hancock 2005).

del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Kushlan, J. A.; Hancock, J. A. 2005. The herons. Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Species factsheet from HeronConservation - The IUCN-SSC Heron Specialist Group

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Ardea goliath. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Ardeidae (Herons)
Species name author Cretzschmar, 1827
Population size 6700-67000 mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 17,800,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change