The black-headed heron (Ardea melanocephala) is a wading bird of the heron family , common throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. It is mainly resident, but some west African birds move further north in the rainy season.
This species usually breeds in trees, reed beds or cliffs. It builds a bulky stick nest, and lays 2–4 eggs.
It often feeds in shallow water, spearing fish or frogs with its long, sharp bill. It will also hunt well away from water, taking large insects, small mammals and birds. It will wait motionless for its prey, or slowly stalk its victim. (This is where I photographed this heron above)
The black-headed heron is a large bird, standing 85 cm tall, and it has a 150 cm wingspan. It has a powerful dusky bill.
The flight is slow, with the neck retracted. This is characteristic of herons and distinguishes them from storks and cranes, and spoonbills which extend their necks. The white underwing coverts are striking in flight.
The call is a loud croaking.
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