Ardea (genus)

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"Megalornis" redirects here. This name was also (invalidly) given to the pseudotooth bird genus Dasornis by Harry Govier Seeley and proposed (but not adopted) for the moa genus Dinornis by Richard Owen.

Ardea
Temporal range: Middle Miocene to present
Great Blue Heron On Rock1.jpg
Great blue heron (A. herodias)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Ardea
Linnaeus, 1758
Species

19, see text

Synonyms

Casmerodius
Megalornis Gray, 1841

The great egret (Ardea alba, left) resembles the other Ardea in habitus, and the little egret (Egretta garzetta, right) only in color.

Ardea is a genus of herons. The genus name comes from Latin ardea "heron".[1] Linnaeus named this genus as the great herons, referring to the generally large size of these birds, typically 80–100 cm or more in length.

These large herons are associated with wetlands where they prey on fish, frogs, and other aquatic species.

Most members of this almost worldwide group breed colonially in trees, building large stick nests. Northern species such as great blue, grey and purple herons may migrate south in winter, although the first two do so only from areas where the waters freeze.

These are powerful birds with large spear-like bills, long necks and long legs, which hunt by waiting motionless or stalking their prey in shallow water before seizing it with a sudden lunge. They have a slow steady flight, with the neck retracted as is characteristic of herons and bitterns; this distinguishes them from storks, cranes, flamingos and spoonbills, which extend their necks.

Taxonomy[edit]

Some members of Ardea are clearly very closely related, such as the grey, great blue, and cocoi herons, which form a superspecies. However, the great egret, in particular, has been placed in other genera by various authors as Egretta alba and Casmerodius albus. Nevertheless, this species closely resembles the large Ardea herons in everything but color, whereas it shows fewer similarities to the smaller white egrets.

Species[edit]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
Ardea herodias3.jpg Ardea herodias Great blue heron North America, as far north as Alaska and the southern Canadian provinces in the summer. In winter, the range extends south through Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean to South America
Ardea cinerea - Pak Thale.jpg Ardea cinerea Grey heron northern Spain, France, central Italy, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Iraq, Iran, India, and Myanmar (Burma). Africa south of the Sahara Desert, the Canary Islands, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and many of the Mediterranean Islands
Goliath Heron, Ardea goliath at Marievale Nature Reserve, Gauteng, South Africa (43682844940).jpg Ardea goliath Goliath heron sub-Saharan Africa
Ardea cocoi -Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil-8.jpg Ardea cocoi Cocoi heron South America
Ardea pacifica fluff4 - Christopher Watson.jpg Ardea pacifica White-necked heron or Pacific heron Australian continent
Black-headed Heron (Ardea melanocephala).jpg Ardea melanocephala Black-headed heron sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar.
Ardea humbloti.jpg Ardea humbloti Humblot's heron Madagascar
White-bellied Heron Ardea insignis nest by Dr. Raju Kasambe (3).jpg Ardea insignis White-bellied heron eastern Himalayas of India and Myanmar.
Ardea sumatrana -Palawan, Philippines-8.jpg Ardea sumatrana Great-billed heron Southern Asia and Australasia including Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
2010-kabini-purple-heron.jpg Ardea purpurea Purple heron Africa, central and southern Europe, and southern and eastern Asia
Ardea alba - Casmerodius albus 1.jpg Ardea alba Great egret or great white egret Asia, Africa, the Americas, and southern Europe.
Intermediate Egret (Mesophoyx intermedia) in Hyderabad W IMG 8406.jpg Ardea intermedia Intermediate egret Southeast Asia and Australia.
Ardea picata.jpg Ardea picata Pied heron northern Australia


A number of Ardea species are only known from subfossil or fossil bones. Their placement in Ardea versus Egretta may be provisional:

  • Bennu heron, Ardea bennuides (prehistoric)
  • Ardea sp. (Middle Miocene of Observation Quarry, US) (fossil)
  • Ardea sp. (Late Miocene of Love Bone Bed, US) (fossil)
  • Ardea polkensis (Early Pliocene of Bone Valley, US) (fossil)
  • Ardea sp. (Early Pleistocene of Macasphalt Shell Pit, US) (fossil)
  • Ardea howardae (fossil)

The remains described as Ardea perplexa are nowadays usually believed to be from an ibis of the genus Geronticus or closely related thereto. "Ardea formosa" (a nomen nudum) is now Proardeola, "Ardea" brunhuberi and "A." similis refer to a misidentified cormorant (Phalacrocorax intermedius) and partridge (Miogallus altus), respectively. "Ardea" lignitum – a fossil of quite recent age as it seems – some large owl, perhaps even a Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 54. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.