(2221) Ardea goliath.
The Giant Heron.
Ardea goliath Oretzchm., Rupp. Atlas, p. 39, pi. 36 (1826) (Africa); Blanford & Oates, iv, p. 384.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Crown and crest deep chestnut; chin, throat and fore-neck white; hind-neck, sides of head and neck pale vinous-rufous ; a line of black down the centre of the lower fore-neck; upper plumage dark grey, the long, narrow scapulars and inner scapulars rather paler; primaries, outer secondaries and tail blackish-brown ; lanceolate feathers of fore-neck and upper breast white with some heavy black streaking in the centre; whole lower plumage deep rufous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris yellow, with an outer rim of red; bill dark horny-slaty, the lower mandible, gape and commissure paler and yellowish ; legs and feet dark slaty-black.
Measurements. Wing, 570 to 589 mm., 592 to 622 mm.; tail 212 to 237 mm,; tarsus 225 to 252 mm.; culmen, 184 to 196 mm., 180 to 190 mm.
Young birds have the neck dull rufous with blackish streaks down the centre of the fore-neck; chin and throat white,streaked with pale dull brownish-rufous; upper parts brown with rufous edges to each feather; primaries, outer secondaries and tail blackish-brown; underparts pale rufous with white shaft-streaks, wider on the abdomen and posterior flanks.
Distribution. Africa. In India this Heron occurs casually from time to time, but is probably often overlooked. Blyth in 1885-6 obtained several immature specimens in the Calcutta Bazaar; two were shot by Parker in Ceylon in 1878-9 and a third was seen in 1880; Jerdon saw them at the foot of the Khasia Hills, where I also saw them in 1909 ; Hume probably saw some birds in Sind and Blanf or d twice saw Herons, presumably of this species, once in Nagpur and once at Bam pur in Baluchistan. Caucus obtained an adult specimen in the Sunder bunds which cannot be distinguished in any way from African birds and observes that this Heron is not uncommon there. I saw five birds of this species in Dacca in 1910 on a sand-bank on the Megna but they were very wild and would not allow an approach within gunshot.
Nidification. This magnificent Heron breeds in September in Africa, eggs having been taken in that month by Horsbrugh on the Modder River, Cox on Laila, off the Somali coast and by Herbert in Abyssinia. The nests are said to be great masses of sticks on trees overhanging rivers or upon heaps of debris in the river-beds. The eggs are three or four in number, the usual sea-green in colour, ten of them averaging 73.5 x 52.5 mm.: maxima 75.4 X 52.1 and 72.5 x 54.0 mm.; minima 68.2 x 52.0 mm.
Habits. This is said to be a very shy bird, very difficult to approach within shot, though in the Sunderbunds Faucus did not find this to be the case. In other respects its habits are typical of the genus.