Kenya Birds

Rufous-bellied Heron


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Rufous-bellied Heron

Photograph(s) Copyright P&H HARRIS

Ardeola rufiventris

Other Names

    French Crabier ventre roux   German Rotbauchreiher   Spanish Garcilla Ventrirroja     Dutch Roodbuikreiger   Italian Sgarza ventre rosso

World: Afrotropical - widespread S of 10°S although absent from the arid SW. Its range goes from southern Uganda and Kenya through to eastern South Africa with its western range covering Angola, N Namibia and N Botswana.

Kenya: The SW borders of Kenya represent the northern most extent of its range. Isolated records exist from the Maasai Mara and Amboseli but despite the apparently suitable habitat they are unknown from the papyrus swamps of western Kenya.

It seems likely that the Kenyan birds are indicative of a post-breeding dispersal from the more southerly parts of its range. This is an inconspicuous bird which occurs either single or in small groups (rarely numbering more than 5 or 6). The sexes are similar but females can be distinguished from males by the presence of a whitish streak on the chin and foreneck (as in the individual pictured above). They spend much of the day motionless in reeds or in grass at the water's edge. Their feeding method is essentially passive but they also adopt a horizontal stance and walk slowly through the vegetation. Their diet consists primarily of fish, frogs, crustaceans and aquatic insects and worms. Although they are mostly wanderers in Kenya there is a small resident population in the Mara GR (where this individual was photographed).

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