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Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Low
Land mass type   Average mass -


  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 28,700,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 28,700,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor Estimated 2009
Population trend Decreasing -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 10.5 - - -
Population justification: The global population is estimated to number c.270,000-570,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in China; < c.1,000 individuals on migration and < c.1,000 wintering individuals in Taiwan; < c.100 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in Japan and possibly < c.50 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).
Trend justification: The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations may be stable and others have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Afghanistan Native Extant     Yes  
Albania Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Algeria Native Extant        
Angola Native Extant        
Armenia Native Extant Yes      
Austria Native Extant Yes      
Azerbaijan Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Bahrain Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Bangladesh Native Extant        
Barbados Vagrant Extant        
Belarus Native Extant   Yes    
Belgium Native Extant     Yes Yes
Benin Native Extant        
Bosnia and Herzegovina Native Extant Yes      
Botswana Native Extant        
Brunei Native Extant        
Bulgaria Native Extant     Yes Yes
Burkina Faso Native Extant        
Burundi Native Extant        
Cambodia Native Extant        
Cameroon Native Extant        
Cape Verde Native Extant        
Central African Republic Native Extant        
Chad Native Extant        
China (mainland) Native Extant        
Congo Native Extant        
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Native Extant        
Côte d'Ivoire Native Extant        
Croatia Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Cyprus Native Extant     Yes  
Czech Republic Native Extant Yes      
Denmark Vagrant Extant        
Djibouti Native Extant        
Egypt Native Extant        
Eritrea Native Extant        
Ethiopia Native Extant        
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Vagrant Extant        
Finland Vagrant Extant        
France Native Extant     Yes Yes
Gabon Native Extant        
Gambia Native Extant        
Georgia Native Extant Yes      
Germany Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Ghana Native Extant        
Gibraltar (to UK) Native Extant        
Greece Native Extant     Yes Yes
Guinea Native Extant        
Guinea-Bissau Native Extant        
Hong Kong (China) Native Extant Yes      
Hungary Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Iceland Vagrant Extant        
India Native Extant        
Indonesia Native Extant        
Iran, Islamic Republic of Native Extant     Yes Yes
Iraq Native Extant     Yes Yes
Ireland Vagrant Extant        
Israel Native Extant Yes      
Italy Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Japan Native Extant        
Jordan Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Kazakhstan Native Extant Yes      
Kenya Native Extant        
Kuwait Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Kyrgyzstan Native Extant Yes      
Laos Native Extant        
Lebanon Native Extant     Yes  
Lesotho Native Extant        
Liberia Native Extant        
Libya Native Extant        
Liechtenstein Native Extant Yes      
Lithuania Vagrant Extant        
Luxembourg Vagrant Extant        
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Native Extant       Yes
Madagascar Native Extant        
Malawi Native Extant        
Malaysia Native Extant        
Maldives Native Extant        
Mali Native Extant        
Malta Native Extant        
Mauritania Native Extant        
Moldova Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Montenegro Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Morocco Native Extant        
Mozambique Native Extant        
Myanmar Native Extant        
Namibia Native Extant        
Nepal Native Extant        
Netherlands Native Extant Yes      
Niger Native Extant        
Nigeria Native Extant        
North Korea Native Extant        
Norway Vagrant Extant        
Oman Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Pakistan Native Extant        
Palestinian Authority Territories Native Extant     Yes  
Philippines Native Extant        
Poland Native Extant Yes      
Portugal Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Qatar Native Extant     Yes  
Romania Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Russia (Asian) Native Extant Yes      
Russia (Central Asian) Vagrant Extant        
Russia (European) Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Rwanda Native Extant        
São Tomé e Príncipe Vagrant Extant        
Saudi Arabia Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Senegal Native Extant        
Serbia Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Seychelles Native Extant        
Sierra Leone Native Extant        
Singapore Native Extant        
Slovakia Native Extant       Yes
Slovenia Native Extant        
Somalia Native Extant        
South Africa Native Extant        
South Korea Native Extant        
South Sudan Native Extant   Yes   Yes
Spain Native Extant     Yes Yes
Sri Lanka Native Extant        
Sudan Native Extant        
Swaziland Native Extant        
Sweden Vagrant Extant        
Switzerland Native Extant Yes      
Syria Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Taiwan (China) Native Extant        
Tajikistan Native Extant Yes      
Tanzania Native Extant        
Thailand Native Extant        
Timor-Leste Native Extant       Yes
Togo Native Extant        
Trinidad and Tobago Vagrant Extant        
Tunisia Native Extant        
Turkey Native Extant       Yes
Turkmenistan Native Extant Yes      
Uganda Native Extant        
Ukraine Native Extant Yes   Yes  
United Arab Emirates Native Extant   Yes Yes  
United Kingdom Vagrant Extant        
Uzbekistan Native Extant Yes      
Vietnam Native Extant Yes      
Western Sahara Native Extant        
Yemen Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Zambia Native Extant        
Zimbabwe Native Extant        

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Austria Neusiedler See site factsheet
Azerbaijan Lake Mahmudchala site factsheet
Botswana Okavango Delta site factsheet
Bulgaria Belene Islands Complex site factsheet
Bulgaria Durankulak Lake site factsheet
Bulgaria Kalimok Complex site factsheet
Bulgaria Mandra-Poda complex site factsheet
Bulgaria Orsoya Fish-ponds site factsheet
Bulgaria Ropotamo Complex site factsheet
Bulgaria Srebarna site factsheet
Bulgaria Tsibarsko Marsh site factsheet
Cape Verde Kapok tree, Boa Entrada site factsheet
Cape Verde Mahoganies at Banana, Ribeira Montanha, Ilha de Santiago site factsheet
Congo Lake Télé Community Reserve site factsheet
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Ngiri site factsheet
Croatia Alluvial wetlands of the River Drava site factsheet
Croatia Danube and Drava rivers' lowland areas site factsheet
Croatia Donji Miholjac fish-ponds site factsheet
Croatia Lower Sava river site factsheet
France Anse de Fouras, baie d'Yves et marais de Rochefort site factsheet
France Basse Vallée du Doubs : Dole Sud site factsheet
France Brenne centrale site factsheet
France Brenne Sud site factsheet
France Camargue site factsheet
France Crau site factsheet
France Estuaire de la Charente site factsheet
France Estuaire de la Gironde : marais du Blayais site factsheet
France Etang de Capestang site factsheet
France Etang de Lindre site factsheet
France Etang des Landes site factsheet
France Etang du Bagnas site factsheet
France Etangs de Canet et de Villeneuve-de-la-Raho et embouchure du Tech site factsheet
France Etangs de la Woëvre: la Chaussée site factsheet
France Etangs de Sologne: St Viatre, Marcilly-en-Gault et forêt de Bruadan site factsheet
France Etangs de Vendres, Pissevache et Lespignan site factsheet
France Etangs Montpellierains site factsheet
France Garonne : marais de Bordeaux site factsheet
France Ile d'Oléron, marais de Brouage-Saint-Agnant site factsheet
France La Dombes site factsheet
France Lac de Grand-Lieu site factsheet
France Lac du Der-Chantecoq et étangs latéraux site factsheet
France Marais entre Crau et Grand Rhône: Meyranne, Chanoine, Plan de Bourg et Salins du Caban site factsheet
France Marais poitevin et baie de l'Aiguillon site factsheet
France Petite Camargue fluvio-lacustre site factsheet
France Petite Camargue laguno-marine site factsheet
France Plaine du Forez site factsheet
France Queue de Brenne : Etang des Loges, Grand et Petit Mez site factsheet
France Vallée de la Garonne : méandre de Grisolles site factsheet
Hungary Béda–Karapancsa site factsheet
Hungary Bodrogzug–Taktaköz site factsheet
Hungary Hortobágy and Tisza-to site factsheet
Hungary Lake Kis-Balaton site factsheet
Hungary Lower Tisza Valley site factsheet
Indonesia Danau Tempe site factsheet
Indonesia Dataran Banjir Ogan Komering site factsheet
Indonesia Pulau Rambut site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Lavandavil Wildlife Refuge site factsheet
Italy Adda Sud Park heronries site factsheet
Italy Brabbia peatland, Lake Varese and Lake Biandronno site factsheet
Italy Caorle lagoon site factsheet
Italy Grado and Marano lagoon site factsheet
Italy Lake Massaciuccoli site factsheet
Italy Lomellina and Heronries of Pavia province site factsheet
Italy Po Delta site factsheet
Italy Punte Alberete and Valle della Canna, Pineta San Vitale and Pialassa della Baiona site factsheet
Italy River Mincio and Bosco Fontana site factsheet
Italy River Po from Dora Baltea mouth to Scrivia mouth site factsheet
Italy Simeto mouth and middle course and Biviere di Lentini site factsheet
Italy Sinis and Oristano wetlands site factsheet
Italy Ticino river site factsheet
Italy Valle Bertuzzi and Goro lagoon site factsheet
Italy Valli di Argenta site factsheet
Italy Valli di Comacchio and Bonifica del Mezzano site factsheet
Italy Venice lagoon site factsheet
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan portion of the river Volga's Delta - Zhambay site factsheet
Mali Lac Débo - Lac Oualado Débo site factsheet
Netherlands Banks of River Linge site factsheet
Netherlands Lake Zwartemeer site factsheet
Netherlands Naardermeer site factsheet
Netherlands Nieuwkoopse Plassen site factsheet
Netherlands Zouweboezem site factsheet
Philippines Agusan Marsh site factsheet
Philippines Manila Bay site factsheet
Poland Upper Vistula River Valley site factsheet
Portugal Barrinha de Esmoriz/Lagoa de Paramos site factsheet
Portugal Lagoa Pequena site factsheet
Portugal Minho and Coura estuaries site factsheet
Portugal Mondego Estuary site factsheet
Portugal Murta dam site factsheet
Portugal Paul de Arzila site factsheet
Portugal Paul de Madriz site factsheet
Portugal Paul do Boquilobo site factsheet
Portugal Paul do Taipal site factsheet
Portugal Pera marsh site factsheet
Portugal Ria de Aveiro site factsheet
Portugal Sado estuary site factsheet
Portugal Salinas de Alverca e do Forte da Casa site factsheet
Portugal Santo André and Sancha lagoons site factsheet
Portugal Tejo estuary site factsheet
Portugal Vilamoura site factsheet
Romania Balta Albă - Amara - Jirlău site factsheet
Romania Balta Mică a Brăilei site factsheet
Romania Blahniţa site factsheet
Romania Braţul Borcea site factsheet
Romania Câmpia Crişurilor site factsheet
Romania Comana site factsheet
Romania Danube Delta site factsheet
Romania Dunăre - Ostroave site factsheet
Romania Dunărea Veche (Braţul Măcin) site factsheet
Romania Gruia - Gârla Mare site factsheet
Romania Suhaia site factsheet
Russia (European) Delta of the River Don site factsheet
Serbia Gornje Podunavlje site factsheet
Serbia Gornje Potamisje site factsheet
Serbia Jegricka site factsheet
Serbia Srednje Potamišje site factsheet
Serbia Subotica lakes and sandy terrain site factsheet
Slovakia Medzibodrozie site factsheet
Slovakia Senné site factsheet
South Sudan Sudd (Bahr-el-Jebel system) site factsheet
Spain Albufera de Mallorca and Albufereta de Pollença marshes site factsheet
Spain Albufera de Valencia marshes site factsheet
Spain Alcázar de San Juan-Quero endorreic lagoons site factsheet
Spain Ampurdán marshes site factsheet
Spain Azután reservoir site factsheet
Spain Bornos reservoir site factsheet
Spain Castrejón reservoir site factsheet
Spain Castronuño-Zamora site factsheet
Spain Cinco Villas ponds site factsheet
Spain Cogul-Alfés steppes site factsheet
Spain Cortados del Jarama site factsheet
Spain Ebro delta site factsheet
Spain El Hondo wetland site factsheet
Spain Guadalquivir marshes site factsheet
Spain Las Cañas lake site factsheet
Spain Monfragüe site factsheet
Spain Odiel and Tinto marshes and Huelva coastal lagoons site factsheet
Spain Pego-Oliva marshes site factsheet
Spain Pitillas and Dos Reinos lagoons site factsheet
Spain Prat de Cabanes-Torreblanca site factsheet
Spain River Ebro ox-bow lakes site factsheet
Spain Rivers Cinca and Alcanadre riverine forest site factsheet
Spain Santa Pola salt-pans site factsheet
Spain Sariñena lake and La Estación pond site factsheet
Spain Tablas de Daimiel marshes; 'Vicario' and 'Gasset' reservoirs and Malagón lakes site factsheet
Spain Tierra de Campos steppes site factsheet
Thailand Thale Noi site factsheet
Thailand Thung Tha Laad site factsheet
Turkey Akşehir and Eber Lakes site factsheet
Turkey Göksu Delta site factsheet
Turkey Kızılırmak Delta site factsheet
Turkey Marmara Lake site factsheet
Turkey Meriç Delta site factsheet
Ukraine Bilosarajs'ka peninsula site factsheet
Ukraine Dnipro delta site factsheet
Ukraine Dniprodzerzhyns'ke reservoir site factsheet
Ukraine Dnister delta site factsheet
Ukraine Karachunivs'ke reservoir site factsheet
Ukraine Konka river mouth site factsheet
Ukraine Molochnyj Liman site factsheet
Ukraine Syvash Bay site factsheet
Ukraine Tsybul'kivs'ki lakes site factsheet
Ukraine Udaj river valley site factsheet
Vietnam U Minh Thuong site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Mangrove Vegetation Above High Tide Level suitable breeding
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Mangrove Vegetation Above High Tide Level suitable non-breeding
Marine Intertidal Mud Flats and Salt Flats suitable breeding
Marine Intertidal Mud Flats and Salt Flats suitable non-breeding
Shrubland Subtropical/Tropical Moist suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands major breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands major non-breeding
Altitude 0 - 1800 m Occasional altitudinal limits  


Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food (human) Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent
Sport Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Ardea purpurea. 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 Linnaeus, 1766
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 28,700,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change
- 2015 European Red List assessment