Egretta ardesiaca


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Egretta ardesiaca
Species Authority: (Wagler, 1827)
Common Name(s):
English Black Heron, Black Egret
French Aigrette ardoisée

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.
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.

Geographic Range [top]

Angola (Angola); Benin; Botswana; Burundi; Cameroon; Chad; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Ethiopia; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Liberia; Madagascar; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Burkina Faso; Cape Verde; Gabon; Israel; Oman; Rwanda; Sao Tomé and Principe; Swaziland; Yemen
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour The movements of this species are little known (Hockey et al. 2005, Kushlan and Hancock 2005), although it is thought to be sedentary, sometimes making local movements in response to seasonal rainfall and the appearance of temporary shallow-water feeding areas (Hancock and Kushlan 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005, Kushlan and Hancock 2005). The species breeds at the start of the rainy season and in periods of flooding when shallow feeding sites develop (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005). It typically breeds in densities of 5 to 50 or up to 100 nests scattered throughout a single- or mixed-species colony. Exceptionally larger breeding colonies are observed, for example 1,500 nests were recorded at Chagana, Tanzania, and huge monospecific colonies used to form in Madagascar (over 10,000 birds where recorded at Antananarivo in 1949/50) although this no longer seems to occur (del Hoyo et al. 1992). When feeding the species may remain solitary and defend territories, or it may form feeding flocks of 5-50 individuals or more (Brown et al 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005) (a flock of 250 was recorded at Benamba Lake, Madagascar) (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It feeds diurnally (Brown et al 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992), particularly at dusk (del Hoyo et al. 1992), and roosts communally in trees or reedbeds in both monospecific and mixed-species groups (Hockey et al. 2005). Habitat The species mainly inhabits lowlands, but occurs up to 1,500 m in the High Plateau Region of Madagascar (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It shows a preference for shallow, perennial (Hockey et al. 2005) freshwater habitats (del Hoyo et al. 1992) such as shallow lakesides (Brown et al 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005), dams (Hockey et al. 2005), ponds, flood-plains, rice-paddies (del Hoyo et al. 1992), marshes (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005), swamps (Brown et al 1982), seasonally flooded grasslands and the edges of rivers (Brown et al 1982, Hockey et al. 2005). It can also found on alkaline lakes (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and in estuarine waters (Hockey et al. 2005) including mangroves, tidal mudflats (Brown et al 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005) and tidal creeks (Hancock and Kushlan 1984), although when in such habitats it remains near freshwater inlets (Brown et al 1982). Diet The diet of this species consists predominantly of fish, but crustaceans and aquatic insects are also taken (Brown et al 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Breeding site The nest is a solid platform constructed of sticks and twigs, usually between 1 and 6 m (Brown et al 1982) high in trees, bushes or reedbeds, and always near or over water (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The greatest threats to this species in Africa are human disturbance and avian predation at nest sites, as well as threats to the aquatic habitats on which the species depends (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). It is highly threatened in Madagascar due to human interference at breeding sites (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005).

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Egretta ardesiaca. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 31 August 2015.
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