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Ardea purpurea

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AVES PELECANIFORMES ARDEIDAE

Scientific Name: Ardea purpurea
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1766
Common Name(s):
English Purple Heron
French Héron pourpré
Taxonomic Notes: Ardea purpurea (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) was split into A. purpurea and A. bournei by Hazevoet (1995). This treatment is not followed by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group although we do recognise consistent behavioural differences and that bournei is paler overall in colouration.

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.
Justification:
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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not 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]

Countries:
Native:
Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Angola (Angola); Armenia (Armenia); Austria; Azerbaijan; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Belarus; Belgium; Benin; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Botswana; Brunei Darussalam; Bulgaria; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cambodia; Cameroon; Cape Verde; Central African Republic; Chad; China; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Ethiopia; France; Gabon; Gambia; Georgia; Germany; Ghana; Gibraltar; Greece; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Hong Kong; Hungary; India; Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Italy; Japan; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Lebanon; Lesotho; Liberia; Libya; Liechtenstein; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Madagascar; Malawi; Malaysia; Maldives; Mali; Malta; Mauritania; Moldova; Montenegro; Morocco; Mozambique; Myanmar; Namibia; Nepal; Netherlands; Niger; Nigeria; Oman; Pakistan; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Philippines; Poland; Portugal; Qatar; Romania; Russian Federation; Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Serbia (Serbia); Seychelles; Sierra Leone; Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Spain (Canary Is.); Sri Lanka; Sudan; Swaziland; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Taiwan, Province of China; Tajikistan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Timor-Leste; Togo; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uganda; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; Uzbekistan; Viet Nam; Western Sahara; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Vagrant:
Barbados; Denmark; Faroe Islands; Finland; Iceland; Ireland; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Norway; Sao Tomé and Principe; Sweden; Trinidad and Tobago; United Kingdom
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: 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).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour Populations breeding in the western Palearctic are migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and travel on a broad front between breeding and wintering grounds (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). African and tropical-Asian populations are largely sedentary however, occasionally making local dispersive movements (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The species breeds from April to June in the western Palearctic, during the rains in Africa, and from June to October in the north of India or November to March in the south of India (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It is a colonial breeder (Hancock and Kushlan 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Turner 2000, Kushlan and Hancock 2005) and although nesting group sizes are usually small (e.g. 2-3 pairs per colony in Africa) and rarely exceed 50 pairs (Turner 2000), colonies of up to 1,000 pairs have been recorded in some areas (Hancock and Kushlan 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1992). It often also nests on the periphery of colonies of other heron species such as Grey Heron Ardea cinerea (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). In migratory populations the autumn migration occurs from August to October (Hancock and Kushlan 1984), with the return passage in the spring beginning in March (Hancock and Kushlan 1984). On migration the species commonly occurs in small groups (the maximum recorded migratory groups sizes being 300-400 individuals) (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and throughout the year it will roost communally by day and by night (Hancock and Kushlan 1984) in groups of up to 100 individuals (Brown et al. 1982) although it generally feeds solitarily (Hancock and Kushlan 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1992). The species is mainly crepuscular, but may also feed diurnally (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Habitat The species inhabits wetlands from sea level to 1,800 m (Madagascar) (del Hoyo et al. 1992), showing a preference for dense, flooded, freshwater reedbeds (Phragmites spp.) in temperate areas (occupying Typha, Scirpus and Papyrus swamps elsewhere) (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). It also utilises lake shores, river margins (del Hoyo et al. 1992), ditches, canals, brackish water lagoons (Kushlan and Hancock 2005), rice-fields, mangroves and coastal mudflats (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Diet Its diet consists of fish 5-15 cm long (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (occasionally up to 55 cm), salamanders (Kushlan and Hancock 2005), frogs, insects (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (e.g. beetles, dragonflies, hemiptera (Kushlan and Hancock 2005) and locusts (Hancock and Kushlan 1984)), crustaceans (del Hoyo et al. 1992), spiders (Kushlan and Hancock 2005) and molluscs (Hancock and Kushlan 1984) as well as small birds and mammals, snakes and lizards (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The nest is a platform of reeds stems or sticks (Kushlan and Hancock 2005) positioned over or beside water up to 3 m high in flooded reedbeds (del Hoyo et al. 1992), 3-4 m high in thickets or mangroves (Kushlan and Hancock 2005) or up to 25 m high in trees (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The species usually nests in loose single- or mixed-species colonies with Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, and although colony sizes are usually small, large groups of up to 1,000 pairs have been recorded (Hancock and Kushlan 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1992) (the colony size depends on the size of the area of marshland) (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Management information Studies in southern France have shown that the overall conservation of this species in Europe is favoured by maintaining large uncut reedbeds with relatively high spring water levels (Barbraud et al. 2002).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threat to this species in Europe is the loss of reedbeds though direct elimination (to reduce sedimentation) (Kushlan and Hancock 2005), agricultural encroachment (Hockey et al. 2005), water management practices (Kushlan and Hancock 2005) (e.g. drainage) (Hockey et al. 2005) and reed cane harvesting (Kushlan and Hancock 2005).

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Ardea purpurea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 28 July 2014.
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