Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath)
aka Giant Heron

Goliath Herons are huge, 60" (150cm) birds and the largest of the Heron family, anywhere in the world. It has a chestnut coloured head and neck, with a heavy streaked black and white 'stripe' down the front of the neck. It is grey on top, while its underparts are chestnut. It has chestnut coloured 'shoulders' that show through the grey upperparts. Its eyes are yellow, with greenish skin in front of the eyes. Its massive dagger-shaped bill, feet and legs are black. Its wingspan can measure up to 7' 6" and is grey, with chestnut parts underneath.

Goliath Herons are solitary birds, pairs only seen at breeding times. A heavy bird, it flies with ponderous wingbeats, its heavy legs below horizontal, unlike other Herons.

Goliath Herons eat fish, spearing them with open beaks, but are ponderous, having caught their prey. Thus, African Fish Eagles, Saddle-billed Storks and Pelicans often come and steal their prey. Goliath Herons will also take prawns, small mammals, frogs, lizards, insects and even snakes.

Goliath Herons are uncommonly seen around larger freshwater lakes, rivers, swamps and estuaries in Kenya's west and central areas, as well as Lake Turkana, in the north and coastal regions north of the Athi River. Not seen above 2,000 metres.

Extra Goliath Heron Facts
Goliath Herons develop large 'powder-downs' on their breast and rump. These are feathers that do not stop growing, but fray into powder, that the Heron uses to dress and clean its other feathers.
The Goliath Heron loves to sunbathe, facing the sun, with its massive wings held half-outstretched.
Goliath Herons were named after the biblical giant defeated by David.

Photographed at Kenya's Lake Baringo and Meru National Park.

Categories & Keywords
Subcategory Detail:
Keywords:bird, giant heron, goliath heron, heron, kenya, wildlife

Goliath Heron ~ On Rock

Goliath Heron standing on rock, Lake Baringo.

Goliath Heron ~ Swimming

Goliath Heron wading in Lake Baringo, chest-deep.

Goliath Heron ~ With Fish

Goliath Heron, wings outstretched for balance, wades through lake waters to the shore, with a fish in its bill.

Goliath Heron ~ Takeoff

Goliath Heron taking flight, Lake Baringo, Kenya.

Goliath Heron ~ Umbrella

Goliath Heron flying, umberella-like, legs dangling.

Goliath Heron ~ Flying

Goliath Heron flying, wings outstretched, legs dangling.