Indian pond heron Ardeola grayii, copyright Lip Kee.

Belongs within: Aequornithia.
Contains: Ixobrychus, Egretta, Nycticorax, Butorides, Ardea.

The Ardeidae include the herons and bitterns, long-billed and -legged fishing birds found worldwide. Characters of the group include a short tail, powder down patches on the breast, rump and sometimes the thighs, and serrations used for grooming along the side of the central forward-directed toe. Basal members of the family include the tiger herons Tigrisoma of South America which resemble bitterns in their cryptic colouration and booming mating calls. The zigzag heron Zebrilus undulatus, another South American species, in primarily grey in colour with light barring.

The night herons of the genera Nycticorax and Nyctanassa are relatively short-necked and stout herons; as indicated by their vernacular name, they are mostly nocturnal in habits. The yellow-crowned night heron Nyctanassa violacea, found in warmer regions of the Americas, is mostly blue-grey with a black head marked by white cheeks and a pale yellow crown. The boatbill heron Cochlearius cochlearius is a Neotropical species with a similar habitus to the night-herons Nycticorax, with a black cap, grey back and pale venter, but with a unique broad beak. This species has historically been classified it in its own family outside the Ardeidae.

See also: The stately herons.

<==Ardeidae [Ardeae, Ardeiformes, Ardeinae, Ardeini, Botaurinae, Erodii, Tigriornithini] BKB15
    |--Calcardea Gingerich 1987 JM14, MR07
    |    `--C. junnei Gingerich 1987 M09
    |--Proardea Lambrecht 1933 JM14, M02
    |    `--*P. amissa (Milne-Edwards 1892) [=Ardea amissa, Egretta amissa] M02
    |--Proardeola Harrison 1979 JM14, M02
    |    `--*P. walkeri Harrison 1979 M02 (see below for synonymy)
    `--+--Tigrisoma BKB15
       |    |--T. brasiliense SS66
       |    |--T. cabanisi S18
       |    |--T. fasciatum BKB15
       |    |--T. lineatum BKB15
       |    `--T. mexicanum JT12
       `--+--Cochlearius Brisson 1760 BKB15, B94 [incl. Cancroma Linné 1766 B94; Cancromini, Cochleariidae, Cochleariini]
          |    `--C. cochlearius (Linnaeus 1766) [=Cancroma cochlearius] W51
          |         |--C. c. cochlearius FS55
          |         |--C. c. panamensis Griscom 1926 [=C. zeledoni panamensis] W51
          |         `--C. c. zeledoni FS55
          `--+--+--Ixobrychus BKB15
             |  `--Zebrilus Bonaparte 1855 BKB15, B94 [Zebrilini]
             |       `--Z. undulatus BKB15
             `--+--+--Syrigma sibilatrix BKB15
                |  `--Egretta BKB15
                `--+--+--Nyctanassa violacea BKB15
                   |  `--Nycticorax BKB15
                   `--+--+--Butorides BKB15
                      |  `--Ardeola Boie 1822 BKB15, CC10 [Ardeolini]
                      |       |--A. bacchus (Bonap. 1855) [=Buphus bacchus] M01
                      |       |--A. grayii (Sykes 1832) [=Ardea grayii; incl. Ardeola grayii phillipsi Scheer 1960] CS77
                      |       |--A. idae JT12
                      |       |--A. ralloides (Scopoli 1769) M02 (see below for synonymy)
                      |       |--A. rufiventris JT12
                      |       `--A. speciosa JT12
                      `--+--Ardea BKB15
                         `--+--Bubulcus Bonaparte 1855 BKB15, CC10 [Bubulcini]
                            |    `--*B. ibis (Linnaeus 1758) [=Ardea ibis, Ardeola ibis, Egretta ibis] CC10
                            |         |--B. i. ibis CC10 (see below for synonymy)
                            |         `--B. i. coromandus (Boddaert 1783) CC10 (see below for synonymy)
                            `--+--Casmerodius Gloger 1841 [=Cosmerodius Salvadori 1882] CC10
                               |    `--C. albus (Linnaeus 1758) CC10 (see below for synonymy)
                               |         |--C. a. albus CS77
                               |         `--‘Egretta alba’ melanorhynchos (Wagler 1827) CS77
                               `--Mesophoyx Sharpe 1894 BKB15, CC10
                                    `--*M. intermedia (Wagler 1829) [=Ardea intermedia, Egretta intermedia] CC10
                                         |--M. i. intermedia CC10
                                         |--‘Egretta’ i. brachyrhyncha (Brehn 1854) CS77
                                         `--M. i. plumifera (Gould 1848) (see below for synonymy) CC10

Ardeidae incertae sedis:
  Pilherodius pileatus JT12
  Gorsachius JT12
    |--G. goisagi (Temminck 1835) I92
    |--G. leuconotus JT12
    |--G. magnificus JT12
    `--G. melanolophus (Raffles 1822) I92
  Melanophoyx ardesiaca A61
  Dichromanassa rufescens A61
  Agamia agami JT12
  Proherodius Lydekker 1891 FP64, M02
    `--*P. oweni Lydekker 1891 M02
  Heterocnus cabanisi FS55
  Ardeagrandis Kuročkin & Ganea 1972 M02
    `--*A. arborea Kuročkin & Ganea 1972 M02
  Zonerodius heliosylus JT12
  Tigriornis Sharpe 1895 B94
    `--T. leucolopha JT12
  Florida caerulea S18
  Ardeirallus CS77
    |--A. flavicollis S89
    `--A. sturmii (Wagler 1827) CS77
  Gnotornis aramiellus Wetmore 1942 M09
  ‘Anas’ basaltica Bayer 1883 M02, M05
  Hydranassa RN72
    |--H. caerulea A61
    `--H. tricolor S18
         |--H. t. tricolor S18
         `--H. t. ruficollis S18
  Leucophoyx thula E52

Ardeola ralloides (Scopoli 1769) M02 [=Ardea ralloides CS77; incl. A. ralloides paludivaga Clancy 1968 CS77]

Bubulcus ibis coromandus (Boddaert 1783) CC10 [=Cancroma coromanda CC10, Ardea ibis coromanda CC10, Ardea coromandeliensis Stephens 1819 CC10, Ardeola ibis coromanda L81, Bubulcus coromandensis Bonaparte 1855 CC10, Egretta ibis coromanda CC10; incl. Ardea affinis Horsfield 1820 CC10, Ardea bubulcus Gray & Gray 1846 CC10, Ardea caboga Franklin 1832 CC10, Ardea flavirostris Vieillot 1823 CC10, Herodias flavirostris CC10, Ardea russata Wagler 1827 CC10]

Bubulcus ibis ibis (Linnaeus 1758) CC10 [incl. Ardea ruficrista Bonaparte 1855 S66, CS77, Ardeola ibis seychellarum (Salomonsen 1934) L81, CS77]

Casmerodius albus (Linnaeus 1758) CC10 [=Ardea alba BKB15, Egretta alba CC10, Herodias alba K08; incl. Ardea egretta Gmelin 1789 CC10, *Casmerodius albus egretta CC10, A61, Egretta alba egretta CS77]

Mesophoyx intermedia plumifera (Gould 1848) [=Herodias plumiferus, Ardea intermedia plumifera, Egretta intermedia plumifera] CC10

*Proardeola walkeri Harrison 1979 M02 [=Ardeola walkeri M02, Proardea walkeri JM14; incl. Ardea formosa Milne-Edwards 1871 (n. n.) M02]

*Type species of generic name indicated


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Last updated: 1 December 2021.

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