Purple Heron


Purple Heron

Scientific Name:  Ardea purpurea

Purple Heron image

Purple Heron  Photo by:  --

Bird Type:  Waders    525  Views


Purple Heron has purple-brown plumage with slate-grey wings, reddish-brown breast, black belly and reddish-purple flanks and scapulars. Crown and long feathers’ crest are black. Rear neck is pale reddish-brown. The rest of the neck is white with black streaks, extending on upper breast. A black line is running down the neck sides. Long pointed bill is yellow and longer than in other herons. Eyes are pale yellow. Legs and feet are orange yellow. Purple Heron has longer toes than other species, allowing walking on floating vegetation and dense bushes. Very conspicuous in flight, these long toes make easier to identify the species. In breeding plumage, both similar adults have long breast feathers. Juvenile is browner than adults, lacking crest and breast feathers, and showing duller and narrow steaks in neck and underparts. We find three subspecies which differ in extent of black streaks on the neck.


  • 78-90 cm

  • 31-35 Inch

  • purple

  • gray  (Bird may have more colors)
  •    लाल अंजन
  •    Héron pourpré
  •    નદી બગલો
  •    लाल सैन
  •    ಕೆನ್ನೀಲಿ ಬಕ
  •    ചായമുണ്ടി
  •    पाणकाड्या बगळा, जांभळा बगळा
  •    ध्यानी बकुल्ला
  •    नील बक
  •    செந்நாரை

Purple Heron breeds in marshes and lakes with extensive reedbeds. Outside breeding season, they prefer more open wetlands with fringing vegetation. Geographical variations are moderate, and breeding birds seem to be established in some parts of their range.


The striated heron species feed on insects, crustaceans, frogs, tadpoles, molluscs, fish, lizards, small birds, rodents and vegetable matter.


Purple Heron is usually silent. While flying, its call is similar to Grey Heron, but higher-pitched. We can also hear a loud resonant krank, and a kar-kar-kar at nest and when takes off.


The purple heron (Ardea purpurea) is a wide-ranging species of wading bird in the heron family, Ardeidae. The scientific name comes from Latin ardea "heron", and purpureus, "coloured purple". It breeds in Africa, central and southern Europe, and southern and eastern Asia. The Western Palearctic populations migrate between breeding and wintering habitats whereas the African and tropical-Asian populations are primarily sedentary, except for occasional dispersive movements.

It is similar in appearance to the more common grey heron but is slightly smaller, more slender and has darker plumage. It is also a more evasive bird, favouring densely vegetated habitats near water, particularly reed beds. It hunts for a range of prey including fish, rodents, frogs and insects, either stalking them or standing waiting in ambush.

Purple herons are colonial breeders and build a bulky nest out of dead reeds or sticks close to the water' edge among reeds or in dense vegetation. About five bluish-green eggs are laid and are incubated by both birds. The young hatch about four weeks later and fledge six weeks after that. The International Union for Conservation of Nature notes that the global population trend is downwards, largely because of the drainage of wetlands, but assesses the purple heron's conservation status as being of "least concern".

The purple heron is a large bird, 78–97 cm (31–38 in) in length with a standing height from 70 to 94 cm (28 to 37 in) and a 120–152 cm (47–60 in) wingspan. However, it is slender for its size, weighing only 0.5 to 1.35 kg (1.1 to 3.0 lb). It is somewhat smaller than the grey heron, from which it can be distinguished by its darker reddish-brown plumage, and, in adults, its darker grey back. Adults have the forehead and the crown of the head black, with a dark stripe down the back of the neck that terminates in a slender, dangling crest. This is shorter than the crest of the grey heron and does not exceed 140 mm (5.5 in). The sides of the head and the neck are buffish chestnut, with dark streaks and lines down either side of the whole the neck. The mantle is oily brown and the upper scapular feathers are elongated but not the lower ones. The rest of the upper parts and the tail are brownish grey. The front of the neck is paler than the sides and there are some elongated feathers at the base of the neck which are streaked with white, chestnut and black. The breast is chestnut brown, with some blackening at the side, and the belly and under-tail coverts are black. The brownish-yellow beak is long, straight and powerful, and is brighter in colour in breeding adults. The iris is yellow and the legs are brown at the front and yellowish behind.

The call is a harsh "frarnk", but is quieter and more high-pitched than that of the grey heron. It is generally a less noisy bird, though similar guttural sounds are heard emanating from the heronry. It is also less robust, and appears somewhat hollow-chested. Its head and neck are more slender and snake-like than the grey heron and its toes much longer. Unlike that bird, it often adopts a posture with its neck extending obliquely, and even nestlings tend to use this stance.

    Resident (inc. local and altitudinal migrants)
    Former range (no recent records but may still survive)
    Summer visitor (including summer monsoon)
    Winter visitor
    Passage (autumn and/or spring) visitor
    known to be occasional, scarce or erratic
    Small isolated population (actual range smaller)  
    Isolated record(s) - one or more in the same area  
 colour coded for seasonality as per coloured ranges, black denotes unspecified season