Ardea sumatrana

Ardea sumatrana, Great-billed Heron, Cangak Laut

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The Great-billed Heron, Ardea sumatrana is a wading bird of the heron family, Ardeidae, resident from southeast Asia to Papua New Guinea and Australia. Its habitats are largely coastal such as islands, coral reefs, mangroves, large rivers. However, occasionally, it can be found inland in shallow ponds.

It feeds in shallow water, spearing fish with its long, sharp bill. It will wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim.

The Great-billed Heron is a large bird, standing 115cm tall. It is larger than the Purple Heron, which it resembles in appearance, although it is larger and darker. The plumage is largely dark grey above. In flight, it has a uniform dark grey upperwing.

The flight is slow, with its neck retracted. This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes and spoonbills, which extend their necks.

Widespread throughout its large range, the Great-billed Heron is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.