Indian Pond Heron

Ardeola grayii - Crabier de Gray

  • Order 


  • Family


  • Genus


  • Species



Sykes, 1832

  • Size
    : 46 cm
  • Wingspan
    : 75 à 90 cm.
  • Weight
Geographic range



Crabier de Gray
adult plum. breeding
Crabier de Gray
adult plum. transition

The Indian Pond Heron, literally Indian pond heron, also called Paddybird by Anglo-Saxons: the bird of the rice fields, its Latin name Ardeola grayii coming from the English zoologist John Edward Gray (1800-1875).
Its appearance will completely change depending on its breeding period. In normal period, the head, neck and chest as well as a large part of the belly are striped with brown-gray vertical stripes on a white background. The lower belly is white to the tail, the mantle and back are almost the same color as the stripes, but a little darker, the primaries, supraalters are pale brown. The yellow legs turn salmon color during the mating season and the plumage will completely change: the back becomes dark brown, the nape, the cap, and partly the cheeks, become light gray, the neck passes from gray to yellowish. The transformation is total with the beak which has the lower jaw yellow and the upper jaw gray in normal period and which will become yellow on both parts with the black tip. Finally a white tuft appears on the nape during the nuptial period, a total transformation: two birds in one!

Subspecific information monotypic species

Foreign names

  • Crabier de Gray,
  • Garcilla india,
  • papa-ratos-indiano,
  • Paddyreiher,
  • indiai üstökösgém,
  • Indische Ralreiger,
  • Sgarza indiana,
  • rishäger,
  • Mangrovehegre,
  • čaplička ryžová,
  • volavka hnědohřbetá,
  • Rishejre,
  • intianriisihaikara,
  • martinet ros de l'Índia,
  • Tjarnhegri,
  • czapla siodłata,
  • dīķu gārnis,
  • indijska čopasta čaplja,
  • Индийская прудовая цапля,
  • インドアカガシラサギ,
  • 印度池鹭,
  • นกยางกรอกพันธุ์อินเดีย,
  • 印度池鷺,

Voice song and cries

Crabier de Gray
adult plum. post breeding

Rough croaking especially when disturbed.


Nearly always close to water bodies, lakes, rivers, mangroves, wetlands. It can increasingly be seen close to settlements and, unfortunately, near public dump sites.

Behaviour character trait

Crabier de Gray

Often in small groups, they stay close to other herons or cormorants, standing on the edges of ponds and open water, sometimes alone. You can observe them on water lilies when hunting. Its often very hieratic position, and sudden flight have earned it the nickname in Sinhalese of Kana Koka or semi-blind heron, as if it only notices the person or animal disturbing it at the very last moment.


Crabier de Gray
adult plum. post breeding

In flight it appears completely white on the wings with a very dark brown body.

Dietfeeding habits

Crabier de Gray
adult plum. post breeding

Completely eclectic: fish, amphibians, crustaceans, insects, leeches, dragonfly. Recent studies have shown that it varied its diet with various plants. Unfortunately, traces of metals have been observed on the tail feathers of some individuals from the south of India, probably from birds frequenting dumps.

Reproduction nesting

Crabier de Gray
adult plum. transition

Indian Pond Heron nests in small colonies in mangroves and trees near lakes and ponds, but can also nest away from water, their nest is a platform of branches built at a height of about ten metres, the male brings branches and twigs to the female who builds the nest, the pair can use the same nest each year.

Crabier de Gray
adult plum. post breeding
The breeding period starts in May and lasts until September, but can be delayed from November to February in South India and Sri Lanka. 3 to 5 eggs usually hatch over a period of 18 to 24 days. Both parents feed the chicks.

Geographic range

Crabier de Gray

All of India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma, seen up to 1500m in Nepal, present in a large part of the Persian Gulf. Individuals have been observed up to the Seychelles.

Threats - protection

Crabier de Gray
adult plum. post breeding
IUCN conservation status
in the Wild

One of the most easily visible birds in India, the Indian Pond Heron, is not in danger but pollution can have detrimental effects.

Sources of information

Other sources of interest

QRcode Crabier de GraySpecification sheet created on 30/07/2023 by
Translation by AI
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