The Black-Headed Heron

African Safari Birding Sibuya Game Reserve

The Black-Headed Heron (ARDEA MELANOCEPHALA) belongs to the same family group as a number of other Herons, Egrets & Bitterns.

Herons are common at SIBUYA & may therefore be overlooked but they are a wonderful sight as they stalk regally across the landscape or pose for long minutes with their snake-like neck poised at the ready for the kill. Perfect, graceful specimens for the avid photographer!

The BLACK-HEADED HERON is smaller than the Grey Heron & is a bird that prefers open grasslands for hunting its prey. It has a specially adapted bill which helps it hunt. The main food sources for this graceful bird at SIBUYA GAME RESERVE are small terrestrial animals such as rodents, lizards, snakes & even birds, up to the size of doves! Insects such as grasshoppers and beetles are favourites but it will also eat frogs, crabs and fish from the Kariega River nearby.

Colonial nesters (often gregarious with other birds), these BLACK-HEADED HERONS have been nesting over the last couple of years in tall trees on the shoreline near RIVER CAMP at SIBUYA. The nest is an untidy platform of sticks, lined with fine plant material, wool & hair. Generally a female lays 2 to 6 eggs and the incubation lasts about a month and a half. Heart-stopping moments have been had by many visitors to RIVER CAMP as at dusk or during the night, a frightening “AAAAAARK!” accompanied often by cackles, croaks & bill clapping echo across the River... these sounds if unexplained, can be quite terrifying to the uninitiated & are just the Herons communicating!



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