Herons of the World
Sixty-five species of herons are recognized. Of these 29 are polymorphic having among them 100 currently recognized subspecies. HeronConservation advocates that conservation of herons occur at the local level in as far as possible. In that taxonomically recognized subspecies do not encompass the entirety of variation or of geographic dispersion, HeronConservation has identified 259 populations of conservation interest. These serve as the basis for conservation planning. The accepted list of heron species and populations, including accepted scientific and English common names is below. HeronConservation urges the consistent use of the nomenclature and ordering of this list for consistency across conservation activities.

Heron Taxonomy and Evolution
Heron taxonomy is complicated and evolving, especially with the use of molecular techniques to address questions of evolutionary relationships. No doubt changes in taxonomy and our understanding of evolutionary relationships will emerge over time. For additional information, please see
Heron Taxonomy and Evolution.

Species Accounts
Accounts of the biology of each species are linked to the List of the Herons of the World, below which can be accessed by clicking on the English common name.  As mistakes are found and new observations and research become available, HeronConservation will correct and update this information. Scientists, conservationists, and heron observers are encouraged to contribute to correcting, adding, and amending the information in these accounts. This can be done through use of the comment functions at the bottom of individual species’ account pages. Please follow the format instructions, so that the information provided can be readily inserted into the corrected accounts. In this way, the heron scientific community can maintain an accurate and up-to-date review of the biology of each species. References cited within the species accounts may be found in the Bibliography of the Herons of the World. For additions and corrections to the species accounts, include full bibliographic references in the format of the Bibliography of Herons of the World. The Species Accounts should be cited as: HeronConservation. Year. Name of Species. www.HeronConservation.org. Accessed Day Month Year.

List of the Herons of the World

The following is a list of the herons of the world. The accepted scientific names and accepted English common names are presented in their recommended order. Also listed are geographic populations that have been identified as conservation units. Each species in the list is linked to its species account, which can be accessed by clicking on the English common name.

Species NameEnglish NameRecognized Population
Ardea cinereaGrey Heron 
  cinerea, Sub-Saharan Africa (bre)
  cinerea, W Europe, NW Africa (bre)
  cinerea, C & E Europe (bre)
  cinerea, Central & SW Asia
  cinerea, South Asia
  jouyi, E, SE Asia
  jouyi, Sumatra
  monicae
  firasa
Ardea herodiasGreat Blue Heron 
  herodias, C & NE North America
  herodias, W North America
  herodias, W North America, N Mexico
  herodias, Baja California, Mexico
  fannini
  wardi
  occidentalis, Florida
  occidentalis, Caribbean
  occidentalis, Central America
  cognata
Ardea cocoiCocoi Heron 
Ardea pacificaWhite-necked Heron 
Ardea albaGreat White Egret 
  alba, W, C & E Europe, Black Sea & E Mediterranean
  alba, SW Asia (non-bre)
  melanorhynchos
  egretta, North America
  egretta, Mexico
  egretta, Central America
  egretta, Caribbean
  egretta, South America
Ardea modestaEastern Great Egret 
  E Asia (non-br)
  Indonesia
  Australia
  New Zealand
Ardea intermediaIntermediate Egret 
  intermedia, South Asia
  intermedia, E, SE Asia
  brachyrhyncha
  plumifera
Ardea melanocephalaBlack-headed Heron 
Ardea humblotiMadagascar Heron 
Ardea insignisWhite-bellied Heron 
Ardea sumatranaSumatran Heron 
  SE Asia
  Australia
Ardea goliathGoliath Heron 
  Sub-Saharan Africa
  SW Asia
  S Asia
Ardea purpurea Purple Heron 
  purpurea, Tropical Africa (bre)
  purpurea, SW & NW Europe, NW Africa (bre)
  purpurea, C & E Europe, Black Sea, Mediterranean
  purpurea, SW Asia (bre)
  madagascariensis
  bournei
  manilensis, South Asia
  manilensis, E & SE Asia
Ardea ibis Cattle Egret 
  ibis, S Africa
  ibis, Tropical Africa
  ibis, NW Africa
  ibis, SW Europe
  ibis, E Mediterranean, SW Asia (bre)
  ibis, North America
  ibis, Mexico
  ibis, Central America
  ibis, Caribbean
  ibis, South America
  ibis, Falkland/Malvinas Is
  seychellarum
  coromandus, South Asia
  coromandus, E, SE Asia
  coromandus, Oceania
Butorides virescens Green Heron 
  virescens, Central & E North America
  virescens, Mexico
  virescens, Central America
  virescens, Caribbean
  bahamensis
  anthonyi
  frazari
Butorides striataStriated Heron 
  striata, Central & South America
  striata, South America
  striata, Bolivia
  sundevalli
  brevipes
  atricapilla
  rutenbergi
  rhizophorae
  degens
  crawfordi
  albolimbata
  chloriceps
  spodiogaster
  amurensis
  actophila
  javanicus
  moluccarus, Moluccas
  moluccara, NW New Guinea
  solomonensis
  idenburgi
  flyensis
  stagnatilis, N Australia
  stagnatilis, NW Australia
  stagnatilis, NE Western Australia
  patruelis
  macrorhyncha, E Australia
  macrorhyncha, SC New Guinea, NE Queensland
  carcinophila
  steini
Ardeola ralloides Squacco Heron 
  SW Europe, NW Africa (bre)
  C & E Europe, Black Sea & E Mediterranean (bre)
  SW Asia (bre)
  Sub-Saharan Africa
Ardeola grayii Indian Pond Heron  
  grayii, SW, S Asia
  grayii, Myanmar, Bay of Bengal
  phillipsi
Ardeola bacchusChinese Pond Heron 
Ardeola speciosaJavan Pond Heron 
  speciosa
  continentalis
Ardeola idaeMadagascar Pond Heron 
Ardeola rufiventrisRufous-bellied Heron 
Egretta rufescensReddish Egret 
  rufescens, S USA
  rufescens, Mexico
  rufescens, Central America
  rufescens, Caribbean
  rufescens, N South America
  dickeyi
Egretta picataPied Heron 
Egretta vinaceigulaSlaty Egret 
Egretta ardesiacaBlack Heron 
Egretta tricolorTricolored Heron 
  tricolor
  ruficollis, USA (bre)
  ruficollis, Mexico
  ruficollis, Central America
  ruficollis, Caribbean
Egretta novaehollandiaeWhite-faced Heron 
  novaehollandiae
  parryi
Egretta caeruleaLittle Blue Heron 
  North America
  Mexico
  Central America
  Caribbean
  South America
Egretta thulaSnowy Egret 
  thula
  brewsteri
  thula, Mexico
  thula, Central America
  thula, Caribbean
  thula, South America
Egretta garzettaLittle Egret 
  garzetta, Sub-Saharan Africa (bre)
  garzetta, W Europe, NW Africa
  garzetta, C & E Europe, Black Sea, Mediterranean (bre)
  garzetta, West Indies
  garzetta, W Asia (bre)
  garzetta, South Asia
  garzetta, E, SE Asia
  nigripes
  immaculata
  gularis
  schistacea, NE Africa, Red Sea
  schistacea, SW, South Asia
  dimorpha, Madagascar
  dimorpha, Aldabra & Amirante Is
  dimorpha, E African coast
Egretta eulophotes Chinese Egret 
Egretta sacraEastern Reef Heron 
  sacra
  albolineata
Syrigma sibilatrix Whistling Heron 
  sibilatrix
  forstersmithi
Pilherodius pileatusCapped Heron 
Nyctanassa violacea Yellow-crowned Night Heron 
  violacea, North America
  violacea, Mexico to Honduras
  violacea, Socorro Island
  caliginis
  cayennensis
  bancrofti
  pauper
Nycticorax nycticoraxBlack-crowned Night Heron 
  nycticorax, W Europe, NW Africa (bre)
  nycticorax, C & E Europe, Black Sea, E Mediterranean
  nycticorax, W Asia
  nycticorax, Sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar
  nycticorax, South Asia
  nycticorax, E, SE Asia
  nycticorax, North America
  nycticorax, Mexico
  nycticorax, Central America
  nycticorax, Caribbean
  nyccticorax, northern South America
  obscurus, S South America
  obscurus, Falkland/Malvinas Is
Nycticorax caledonicusRufous Night Heron 
  caledonicus
  manillensis
  pelewensis
  mandibularis
  hilli
Nycticorax leuconotusWhite-backed Night Heron 
Gorsachius magnificusWhite-eared Night Heron 
Gorsachius goisagi Japanese Night Heron  
Gorsachius melanolophusMalayan Night Heron 
  SE Asia
  Philippines
  Palawan, Philippines
  Nicobar Is
Botaurus pinnatusSouth American Bittern 
  pinnatus
  caribaeus
Botaurus lentiginosusNorth American Bittern 
Botaurus stellarisEurasian Bittern 
  stellaris, W Europe, NW Africa
  stellaris, C & E Europe, Black Sea, E Mediterranean, W & C Asia
  stellaris, South Asia
  stellaris, S & E Asia
  capensis
Botaurus poiciloptilusAustralasian Bittern 
  SW Australia
  SE Australia
  New Zealand
  New Caledonia
Ixobrychus involucrisStreaked Bittern 
  N South America
  S South America
Ixobrychus exilisLeast Bittern 
  exilis
  pullus
  bogotensis
  erythromelas
  peruvianus
Ixobrychus minutusLittle Bittern 
  minutus, W Europe, NW Africa
  minutus, C & E Europe, Black Sea & E Mediterranean
  minutus, W & SW Asia
  minutus, South Asia
  payesii
  podiceps
  novaezelandiae
  dubius
Ixobrychus sinensisYellow Bittern 
  Seychelles
  South Asia
  E & SE Asia
Ixobrychus eurhythmusSchrenck's Bittern 
Ixobrychus cinnamomeusCinnamon Bittern 
  South Asia
  E, SE Asia
Ixobrychus sturmii Dwarf Bittern 
Ixobrychus flavicollisBlack Bittern 
  flavicollis, South Asia
  flavicollis, E, SE Asia
  australis, Australia, New Guinea
  australis, Timor
  australis, Rennell Island
  australis, New Britain, New Ireland
  woodfordi
Zebrilus undulatusZigzag Heron 
Tigrisoma mexicanumBare-throated Tiger Heron 
  mexicanum, Colombia to Mexico
  mexicanum, S Mexico
Tigrisoma fasciatumFasciated Tiger Heron 
  fasciatum
  salmoni
  pallescens
Tigrisoma lineatumRufescent Tiger Heron 
  lineatum
  marmoratum
Zonerodius heliosylusNew Guinea Tiger Heron 
Tigriornis leucolophusWhite-crested Tiger Heron 
Agamia agami Agami Heron 
Cochlearius cochleariusBoat-billed Heron 
  cochlearius
  zeledoni
  phillipsi
  ridgwayi
  panamensis