The Humblot’s Heron is threatened by habitat loss through degradation of wetlands for human use and rice cultivation, and siltation following watershed deforestation.
At least 50% of the population is living outside protected areas, and the overall habitat is poorly protected.
The population is estimated to number 1,500 individuals, equating roughly to 1,000 mature individuals. This population is suspected to be declining.
The Humblot’s Heron is currently listed as Endangered.

Fr: Héron de Humblot – Héron de Madagascar
Ang: Humblot’s Heron – Madagascar Heron
All: Madagaskarreiher
Esp: Garza Malgache
Ita: Airone di Humblot
Nd: Madagaskarreiger
Sd: madagaskarhäger
Mal: Vano, Vorompasika, vorompotsy, Voronomby


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HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 1 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334105

Birds of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands Par Roger Safford, Adrian Skerrett, Frank Hawkins – ISBN: 1472924118, 9781472924117- Editeur: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015

The Birds of Africa: Volume VIII: The Malagasy Region: Madagascar, Seychelles, Comoros, Mascarenes - Par Roger Safford, Frank Hawkins – ISBN: 1408190494, 9781408190494- Editeur: A&C Black, 2013

Birds of Madagascar: A Photographic Guide Par Pete Morris, Frank Hawkins – ISBN: 0300077556, 9780300077551- Editeur: Yale University Press, 1998

Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands Par Ian Sinclair, Olivier Langrand - ISBN: 1868729567, 9781868729562- Editeur: Struik, 2003

A Photographic Guide to Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands: Madagascar ... Par Ian Sinclair, Olivier Langrand, Fanja Andriamialisoa - ISBN-10: 177007175X - ISBN-13: 978-1770071759 - Publisher: Struik Publishers (July 18, 2011)

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Humblot’s Heron
Ardea humbloti

Pelecaniformes Order – Ardeidae Family

The Humblot’s Heron is endemic to Madagascar and occurs mainly in the western coastal regions. It is found in coastal habitats but also in freshwater lakes and rivers where it frequents clear, shallow and deep waters with large fish. It uses salt, brackish and fresh wetlands.
This large, solitary heron is threatened by degradation and destruction of wetlands for rice cultivations and human use. The Humblot’s Heron is currently listed as Endangered with small, declining population.
Its name pays tribute to the French naturalist Leon Humblot (1852-1914).

Length: 92-100 cm

The Humblot’s Heron is darker with more uniformly coloured plumage than the Grey Heron and lacks white or rufous tinge. The flight-feathers and the alula are darker grey.
The head is dark, greyish-black, and the chin is black. The crest feathers on the hind crown are black.   
The large, massive bill is dull yellow with black base, becoming mostly orange during the breeding season. The eyes are pale yellow. Legs and feet are brownish to dull greyish with yellow tinge, but they become almost orange in breeding season.
Male and female are similar.
The juvenile has darker plumage than adults, and white/brownish chin. The very young birds have brown feathers on the upperparts.

The Humblot’s Heron is found in W Madagascar. The status is unclear in Comoro Islands with small but regular numbers on Mayotte, but no proof of breeding.

The Humblot’s Heron can be seen in coastal areas in fresh, brackish or salt water. It also frequents lagoons, estuaries, bays, mangroves, tidal areas and reefs.
However, it can be seen inland too, in freshwater wetlands such as lakeshores or flooded grasslands, rarely ricefields. This species occurs from sea-level up to 1,500 metres of elevation.

Like the Grey Heron, the Humblot’s Heron gives loud, low-pitched “karr” or “aaark” while flying. This call is repeated irregularly. At nest, the adults produce a low bill-rattle.

The Humblot’s Heron usually feeds on medium-sized to large fish of up to 30 centimetres long including eels, sea-snakes, mudskippers of family Gobiidae, and crustaceans.

From some observations at various months throughout the year (July, August, November and December), the Humblot’s Heron may possibly breed all year round, but synchronized at local level.
Like numerous Ardeidae, it nests solitary or in mixed-species colonies, often with the Grey Heron. Some nests may contain chicks of both species, with adults in close proximity also of both species, without evidence of hybridization.

The nest is a typical platform made with reeds or other wetland vegetation, on ground or in trees, but also in trees in small patches of forest on offshore rocky islets, in rock crevices and on small islands on lakes.
The female lays 1-3 blue eggs. No more information.

Usually in Ardeidae, both adults share the incubation that lasts between 18 and 30 days, depending on the species. The chicks are altricial. They remain at nest during several weeks in the large Ardea herons. They wander off from the nest some weeks after hatching.

The breeding success of the Humblot’s Heron is suspected to be low. The chicks are vulnerable to disturbance, egg-collection and capture of nestlings by local people for food.

Like most Ardeidae, it forages quietly, waiting motionless for long periods, but also walking slowly including in deep water, but mainly in shallow water or on floating vegetation. It feeds during both rising and falling tides.
Once a large fish is caught, the heron usually flies short distance to reach a firmer soil. It often rests or preens on sandy beach between two feeding sessions.

The Humblot’s Heron may nest solitary or in small, mixed-species colonies, usually 8-10 pairs with other heron species, ibises and spoonbills according to the location.
The courtship behaviour is unknown, but we can suggest that it is similar to other Ardeidae.  

The Humblot’s Heron is resident in coastal areas of W, S and extreme NE of the island. However, wandering birds are occasionally reported (mostly juveniles) at mid-elevation on E coast and on Nosy Hara archipelago.

The flight is slow, rather heavy but strong. It is able to land on water and taking-off again immediately.