Species of Thailand
Ardea purpurea, Carolus Linnaeus, 1766
(In Thai: นกกระสาแดง)
Not to be confused with the reddish egret.
The purple heron (Ardea purpurea) is a wading bird in the heron family Ardeidae, breeding in Africa, central and southern Europe, and southern and eastern Asia. The European populations are migratory, spending winter in tropical Africa; the more northerly Asian populations also migrate further south within Asia. It is a rare but regular wanderer north of its breeding range.
The purple heron is a large bird, 78 - 97 cm in length with a standing height from 70 to 94 cm and a 120 – 152 cm wingspan. However, it is slender for its size, weighing only 0.5 - 1.35 kg. It is somewhat smaller than the grey heron, from which it can be distinguished by its darker reddish-brown plumage, and, in adults, darker grey back. It has a narrower yellow bill, which is brighter in breeding adults. The most similarly-coloured heron is the Goliath heron, which is considerably larger.
The purple heron breeds in colonies in reed beds or trees close to large lakes or other extensive wetlands. It builds a bulky stick nest.
It feeds in shallow water, spearing fish, frogs, insects, spiders, small birds, rodents, salamanders, and snakes. It will often wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim. It tends to keep within reed beds more than the grey heron, and is often inconspicuous, despite its size.
It has a slow flight, with its neck retracted. This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes and spoonbills, which extend their necks. The long neck of the purple heron looks particularly snake-like, with more of an S-shape in flight. The call is a loud croaking "krek".
The purple heron is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
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Category / Seasonal Status
Wiki listed status (concerning Thai population): Winter visitor
BCST Category: Recorded in an apparently wild state within the last 50 years
BCST Seasonal statuses:
- Resident or presumed resident
- Non-breeding visitor
- Ardea purpurea
- Thai: นกกระสาแดง
Ardea purpurea bournei, René de Naurois, 1966
Range: Bourne's heron. Found in the Cape Verde Islands (included in purpurea by some authors, but treated as a distinct species Ardea bournei by some others).
Ardea purpurea madagascariensis, Eduard Daniel van Oort, 1910
Ardea purpurea manilensis, Franz Julius Ferdinand Meyen, 1834
Range: Asia from Pakistan east to the Philippines and Indonesia, and north to Primorsky Krai, Russia.
Ardea purpurea purpurea (nominate), Carolus Linnaeus, 1766
Range: Africa, Europe north to the Netherlands, and southwestern Asia east to Kazakhstan.