NEERI Biodiversity Portal      

                     Easy access to campus Biodiversity...

Facilitates Learning & Sharing Knowledge of Biodiversity on a Click
NBP was inaugurated by Dr. M.S. Ladania, Director, NRCC Nagpur on 8 April 2015


(Ardeola grayii)

Family Ardeidae

The Indian Pond Heron or Paddy bird with the scientific name of Ardeola grayii (Sykes, 1832) is a small heron which is one of the most commonly found species in India and is widely spread all around the world. Distributed from Persian Gulf through Indian Subcontinent and Sri Lanka to Burma; also Laccadives and Maldives, Andamans and Nicobars. This bird can be found in a wide variety of habitats including rivers, lakes, marshes, mangroves, streams and paddy fields. It is also found in highly urbanized and populated areas, for example Indian pond-heron nests have been found in towns and cities. In NEERI campus of Nagpur it is frequent during winters and can be seen in children park and ground basking in sun.

Pond heron appear stocky with a short neck, short thick bill and buff-brown back. In summer, adults have long neck feathers. Its appearance is transformed from their dull colours when they take to flight, when the white of the wings makes them very prominent. The Indian pond-heron is an elegant bird with white-grey plumage, a brown stripe on its back, and a yellow beak with a black tip. Fascinatingly, its legs change colour in the breeding season, turning from green to bright yellow during the months of March to September. Some individuals even have red legs; a feature which has been reported in about two percent of the population in southern and western India.

The varied diet of the Indian pond-heron includes small fish, frogs, crabs, other crustaceans, aquatic insects, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, and baby turtles, and it may also consume substantial amounts of plant matter. It is a stealthy hunter, stalking its prey by walking slowly toward it or by standing still, awaiting the chance to ambush.

They are semi-colonial breeders. The breeding season is after the monsoon in southern India but varies in other parts of its range but chiefly June to September. The breeding season is prior to the monsoons.

They nest in small colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. Most nests are built at a height of about 9 to 10 m in large leafy trees. The nest material is collected by the male while the female builds the nest.

Most of the time the Indian pond-heron is very quiet, but it can omit a harsh croak. The Indian Pond heron's voice is very similar to human voice. It produces a sound "Wakoo" when it is breeding.

Camouflage is so excellent that they can be approached closely before they take to flight, a behaviour which has resulted in folk names and beliefs that the birds are short-sighted.
The phrase "bagla bhagat" has been used to describe a "wolf in sheep's clothing" or a heron appearing like a meditating saint.