Body length: 40 – 49 cm. Width of the wings: 80 – 92 cm. Weight: 250 to 300 g. Longevity: 11 years.

This is a stocky species with a short neck, short, thick bill and buff-brown back. In summer, adults have long neck feathers. Small heron, in the perched state above, looks entirely orange-brown with a white stomach and a characteristic “ruff” of many white and brown feathers that is missing in young birds. Its appearance is transformed in flight, when it looks very white due to the colour of the wings and the tail contrast with the brown back and attract attention.

It is quite quiet. However, in the evening when Squacco Heron is running or when it is upset, it plays a rough “car” sound, a little reminiscent of the jackdaw.


Distribution and Habitat

Ethiopian species, which breeding area covers North Africa, Central and Asia Minor and Europe (Spain, Portugal, Southern France, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Greece, Bulgaria). Winters in the Persian Gulf, in Africa, south of the Sahara.

Habitats: freshwater lakes and marshes, dams and micro dams, fish farms, floodplain forests. During migrations, it is also found in coastal brackish ponds, reservoirs, canals for irrigation.

In Bulgaria Squacco Heron is breeding-nesting. It is mainly situated along the Danube River and the larger rivers in the Danube Plain, the Thracian Plain and the Bourgas Wetlands. It is registered as nesting on the Danube coast, in the Danube Plain, in the Burgas lakes, around Plovdiv and in the marsh east of Sofia, showing a steady tendency to repeatedly reduce the breeding population in Bulgaria.



Squacco Heron feeds with small fish, amphibians and insects. Frogs are her favorite prey. It has a fairly horizontal position when fishing.



Squacco Heron has one generation a year between April and June. Hatch only in mixed colonies of Herons, Brilliant Ibises, Spoonbills and Little Cormorants. The nests are located usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs, frequently in cane or on willows and poplars. Lays 4-6 eggs. Incubation period lasts about 22 to 24 days. The chickens remain in the nest for 45 days and start flying in the beginning of July.


Conservation Status





Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)