Black-crowned night heron Nycticorax nycticorax, photographed by Ashok Khosla.

Belongs within: Neoaves.
Contains: Ixobrychus, Egretta, Butorides, Ardea.

The Ardeidae include the herons and bitterns, long-billed and -legged fishing birds found worldwide. 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 night herons of the genus Nycticorax are relatively short-necked and stout herons, generally with a dark crown and paler underparts; as indicated by their vernacular name, they are mostly nocturnal in habits. The boatbill heron Cochlearius cochlearius is a Neotropical species with a similar habitus to the night-herons Nycticorax but with a unique broad beak; several authors classify it in its own family, outside the Ardeidae.

See also: The stately herons.

Characters (from Heather & Robertson 1996): Bill straight, dagger-like; neck long, often kinked. Tail short. Powder down patches peresent on breast, rump and sometimes thighs. Centre forward-directed toe with serrations along side, used for grooming.

<==Ardeidae [Ardeae, Ardeiformes, Botaurinae, Tigriornithini] JT12
    |--Calcardea junnei JM14
    |--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 JT12
       |    |--T. brasiliense SS66
       |    |--T. cabanisi SS66
       |    |--T. fasciatum JT12
       |    |--T. lineatum EA06
       |    `--T. mexicanum JT12
       `--+--Cochlearius Brisson 1760 JT12, B94 [incl. Cancroma Linné 1766 B94; Cancromini, Cochleariidae, Cochleariini]
          |    `--C. cochlearius FS55
          |         |--C. c. cochlearius FS55
          |         `--C. c. zeledoni FS55
          `--+--+--Ixobrychus JT12
             |  `--Zebrilus Bonaparte 1855 JT12, B94 [Zebrilini]
             |       `--Z. undulatus JT12
             `--Ardeinae [Ardeini] B94
                  |  i. s.: ‘Anas’ basaltica Bayer 1883 M02, M05
                  |--+--Syrigma sibilatrix JT12
                  |  `--Egretta JT12
                  `--+--+--+--Butorides JT12
                     |  |  `--Ardeola Boie 1822 [Ardeolini] BKB15, B94
                     |  |       |--A. bacchus (Bonap. 1855) [=Buphus bacchus] M01
                     |  |       |--A. grayii Ma03
                     |  |       |--A. idae JT12
                     |  |       |--A. ralloides (Scopoli 1769) M02
                     |  |       |--A. rufiventris JT12
                     |  |       `--A. speciosa Mo03
                     |  `--+--Ardea BKB15
                     |     `--+--Bubulcus Bonaparte 1855 BKB15, B94 [Bubulcini]
                     |        |    `--*B. ibis (Linnaeus 1758) CC10 (see below for synonymy)
                     |        |         |--B. i. ibis R85
                     |        |         |--B. i. coromandus (Boddaert 1783) R85 (see below for synonymy)
                     |        |         `--‘Ardeola’ i. seychellarum L81
                     |        `--+--Casmerodius Gloger 1841 JT12, CC10 [=Cosmerodius Salvadori 1882 CC10]
                     |           |    `--C. albus (Linnaeus 1758) JT12, WH02 (see below for synonymy)
                     |           `--Mesophoyx Sharpe 1894 JT12, CC10
                     |                `--*M. intermedia (Wagler 1829) [=Ardea intermedia, Egretta intermedia] CC10
                     |                     |--M. i. intermedia HR96
                     |                     |--‘Egretta’ i. brachyrhyncha HR96
                     |                     `--M. i. plumifera (Gould 1848) (see below for synonymy) CC10
                     `--+--Nyctanassa violacea JT12
                        `--Nycticorax Forster 1817 JT12, B94 (see below for synonymy)
                             |--N. nycticorax [incl. *N. infaustus] CC10
                             |    |--N. n. nycticorax S18
                             |    `--N. n. naevius S18
                             |--N. caledonicus (Gmelin 1789) [=Ardea caledonica] WS48
                             |    |--N. c. caledonicus I92
                             |    |--N. c. australasiae (Vieillot 1823) (see below for synonymy) CC10
                             |    `--N. c. crassirostris Vigors 1839 I92
                             |--N. duboisi HSS13
                             |--N. gardeni SS66
                             |--N. leuconotus [incl. Ardea cucullata, *Calherodius cucullatus] CC10
                             |--N. mauritianus FS01
                             `--N. megacephalus FS01

Ardeidae incertae sedis:
  Pilherodius pileatus PT03
  Gorsachius SU93
    |--G. goisagi (Temminck 1835) I92
    |--G. leuconotus JT12
    |--G. magnificus SU93
    `--G. melanolophus (Raffles 1822) I92
  Melanophoyx ardesiaca A61
  Dichromanassa rufescens A61
  Hydranassa A61
    |--H. caerulea A61
    `--H. tricolor S18
         |--H. t. tricolor S18
         `--H. t. ruficollis S18
  Agamia agami Ma03
  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

*Bubulcus ibis (Linnaeus 1758) CC10 [=Ardea ibis CC10, Ardeola ibis CC10, Egretta ibis CC10; incl. Ardea ruficrista S66]

Bubulcus ibis coromandus (Boddaert 1783) R85 [=Cancroma coromanda CC10, Ardea ibis coromanda J06, 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]

Casmerodius albus (Linnaeus 1758) JT12, WH02 [=Ardea alba WS48, Egretta alba WH02, Herodias alba K08; incl. Ardea egretta Gmelin 1789 CC10, *Casmerodius albus egretta CC10, A61]

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

Nycticorax Forster 1817 JT12, B94 [incl. Calherodius Bonaparte 1855 CC10; Nycticoracinae, Nycticoracini]

Nycticorax caledonicus australasiae (Vieillot 1823) [=Ardea australasiae; incl. N. caledonicus hilli Mathews 1912, A. maculata Latham 1802 non Gmelin 1789, A. novaehollandiae Vieillot 1817 non Latham 1790] 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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