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Rufous-bellied Heron Ardeola rufiventris
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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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 is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds 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)
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 population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the extent of threats to the species.

Behaviour This species is mainly sedentary, although it may make partial migratory movements (del Hoyo et al. 1992) in relation to seasonal flooding (Brown et al. 1982) of river flood-plains (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). It breeds during the rainy season, or when flooding is at a peak (which may be in the early dry season) (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005). The species nests colonially with other species (del Hoyo et al. 1992), typically in small groups of 6-30 pairs, although groups of 60-80 pairs have been reported at Lake Bangweulu, Zambia (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). The species feeds diurnally, and sometimes nocturnally, alone or in small flocks of up to five individuals, exceptionally more than 12 (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005), and when not foraging it roosts in trees (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Habitat The species inhabits seasonally flooded grasslands, marshes, flood-plains (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and inland deltas (such as the Okavango Delta) (Hancock and Kushlan 1984), shallow water along riverbanks and lake shores, stands of papyrus, reedbeds (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and rice-fields (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Diet Its diet consists of small fish (Tilapia and Barbus), frogs, crustaceans, aquatic insects and worms (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Breeding site The nest is a small platform of vegetation positioned low down (Brown et al. 1982, Kushlan and Hancock 2005) in reeds, trees or shrubs that are usually standing in water (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). It usually nests on the periphery of mixed-species colonies (del Hoyo et al. 1992).

Brown, L. H.; Urban, E. K.; Newman, K. 1982. The birds of Africa vol I. Academic Press, London.

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.

Hancock, J.; Kushlan, J. 1984. The herons handbook. Croom Helm, London.

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: Ardeola rufiventris. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

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 (Sundevall, 1851)
Population size 6700-67000 mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 5,550,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change