This suborder, containing the Herons and their allies, is holorhinal ; the mandible is not produced behind its articulation with the quadrate, and there is only a single incision on each side of the posterior border of the sternum. Cervical vertebras 18 to 20, Ambiens and accessory femoro-caudal absent, femoro-caudal sometimes very small. A pair of tracheo-bronchial muscles present. The spinal bare tract extends far up the neck; in one genus. Ardetta, the whole back of the neck is naked.
The suborder is sometimes divided into three families, Ardeidae, Scopidae, and Balaenicipitidae ; the last two are peculiar to Africa, and their relations to the Ardeidae are variously regarded by different writers. The Ardeidae alone are Indian.