Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea). Taken at Cherine, France on June 25th 2010.
Taken at Cherine, France on June 25th 2010.
(1/400th sec at f14. Click image for a larger version. © David Hastings)


L: 70 - 90cm (neck extended); WS: 120 - 138cm

The Purple Heron is a large bird but is slender for its size, weighing only 0.5-1.3 kg. It is somewhat smaller than the Grey Heron, from which it can be distinguished by its darker reddish-brown plumage, and darker grey back. It has a narrower yellow bill, which is brighter in breeding adults.

It breeds in Africa, central and southern Europe, and southern and eastern Asia. The European populations are migratory, wintering 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.

It prefers shallow, swampy lakes with extensive reedbeds.

It breeds in colonies in reed beds or trees close to large lakes or other extensive wetlands. It builds a bulky nest from sticks. It feeds in shallow water, spearing fish, frogs, insects, small mammals, reptiles and small birds.


07-Aug-2016 : Otmoor, Oxon (1)
01-May-2013 : The Camargue, France (2)
25-Apr-2013 : Marais du Viguierat, France (1)
26-Jun-2010 : The Brenne, Loire Valley, France (1)
25-Jun-2010 : The Brenne, Loire Valley, France (1)
24-Jun-2010 : The Brenne, Loire Valley, France (1)
17-May-2005 : Ludo Marsh, Portugal