Thai National Parks

Species of Thailand

Great-billed heron

Ardea sumatrana

Thomas Stamford Raffles, 1822

In Thai: นกกระสาใหญ่

The great-billed heron (Ardea sumatrana) is a wading bird of the heron family, Ardeidae, resident from southeast Asia to Papua New Guinea and Australia. Its habitats are largely coastal such as islands, coral reefs, mangroves, large rivers. However, occasionally, it can be found inland in shallow ponds.

It feeds in shallow water, spearing fish with its long, sharp bill. It will wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim.

The great-billed heron is a large bird, typically standing 114 – 115 cm tall and weighing up to 2.6 kg. It is larger than the purple heron, which it resembles in appearance, although it is larger and darker. The plumage is largely dark grey above. In flight, it has a uniform dark grey upperwing.

The flight is slow, with its neck retracted. This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes and spoonbills, which extend their necks.

Widespread throughout its large range, the great-billed heron is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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Category / Seasonal Status

Wiki listed status (concerning Thai population): Now very rare

BCST Category: Recorded in an apparently wild state within the last 50 years

BCST Seasonal status: Resident or presumed resident

Scientific classification

Ardea sumatrana

Common names

  • Thai: นกกระสาใหญ่

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Critically Endangered (IUCN3.1)

Critically Endangered (ONEP)

Critically Endangered (IUCN3.1)

Critically Endangered (BCST)


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Great-billed heron

Range Map

Distribution map of Great-billed heron, Ardea sumatrana in Thailand
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
  • Ko Samui District, Surat Thani
  • Laem Son National Park
  • Mueang Krabi District, Krabi
  • Similan Islands
  • Surin Islands
Range map of Ardea sumatrana in Thailand