1558. Ardea goliath.
The Giant Heron.
Ardea goliath, Cretzschm. in Rupp. Atlas, p. 39, pl. 30 (1826); Temm. Pl. Col. pl. 474 (1829); Blyth, Cat. p. 278 ; id. J. A. S. B. xxiv, p. 280 ; Jerdon, B. B iii, p. 739; Blyth, Ibis, 1865, p. 36; Hume, N. & E. p. 610; id. S. F. i, p. 105; Blanf. Eastern Persia ii, p. 295 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 105 ; vii, p. 490 ; id. Cat. no. 921 ; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1124; Parker, 8. F. ix, p. 486; Butler, S. F. x, p. 149 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxvi, p. 66. Ardea nobilis, Blyth, A. M. N. II. xiii, p. 175 (1844).
Coloration. In the adult (only known from Africa), the crown and crest are deep vinous chestnut, neck behind and on the sides rufous cinnamon, chin, cheeks, and throat white, lower fore neck purplish black streaked with white, elongate breast-plumes streaked white and slaty black; upper parts, wings, and tail slaty grey; lower parts from the breast, lower tail-coverts, sides of body, and, wing-lining deep chestnut.
In young birds the colours are dull, the head and neck much paler, the grey of the upper parts with rufous edgings; lower parts white streaked with brown.
Bill dark slaty, lower mandible fleshy with a dark margin; irides yellow with reddish margins ; eyelid pale slaty; legs and feet dark slaty blackish (Legge). The genys is more curved than in other species of Ardea.
Length 56 ; tail 8.5 ; wing 24 ; tarsus 9 ; bill from gape 9.5.
Distribution. Throughout Africa. The occurrence of this bird in India is remarkable and somewhat mysterious. Mr. Blyth, in 1845-46, procured several specimens, all of immature birds, in the Calcutta bazaar. None has been obtained near Calcutta since, despite numerous enquiries by Hume and others, nor, so far as is known, has a single specimen been collected elsewhere in India, but in Ceylon two were shot, one in 1878 and another in 1879, and a third was seen by Mr. Parker in 1880. Then Jerdon observed a bird of this species at the foot of the Khasi Hills ; Hume saw six huge Herons apparently of this species in Sind; and I have twice seen very large Herons, once by a tank at Bazargaon, near Nagpur, and another time at Bampur in Baluchistan. There can be no doubt that a big Heron with a reddish head and neck occurs in India, but until an adult can be compared, it cannot be regarded as certain that this bird is identical with the African A. goliaih. Should it prove distinct, it will bear Blyth's name A. nobilis.