Great-billed Heron – hunting and mating calls

“Was at Sungei Buloh last weekend, and was rather chuffed to see the largest and rarest heron in Singapore up close and hunting. Up till then, I had only seen them at a distance, and sometimes only visible with binoculars.

HeronGrBl-fish [LenaChow]

“Here, the Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana) has finally speared a fish after several misses (above).

“Video of hunting heron here:

“The heron proceeded to walk to the bank with its catch, at which time I heard a loud cattle-like bellow. I did not realise it while shooting the first heron, but a second heron had also appeared and it flew toward the first heron, which quickly dislodged and swallowed its catch.

“Now I had 2 rare herons in front of me, albeit now at the opposite bank to where I was. Then an even rarerer treat for me was when they threw back their heads like Sarus Cranes, and took turns to bellow like cattle to each other! Here’s my video of what I think are their mating calls, too bad though they are rather faint, but the video captures the pair throwing back their heads and calling with inflated throats:

“I can’t seem to find a better recording online or info on whether these are mating calls, but it sure seems like it!”

Lena Chow
20th March 2016

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