Rufous-bellied Heron Ardeola rufiventris


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Trend justification
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the extent of threats to the species.


Behaviour This species is mainly sedentary, although it may make partial migratory movements (del Hoyo et al. 1992) in relation to seasonal flooding (Brown et al. 1982) of river flood-plains (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). It breeds during the rainy season, or when flooding is at a peak (which may be in the early dry season) (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005). The species nests colonially with other species (del Hoyo et al. 1992), typically in small groups of 6-30 pairs, although groups of 60-80 pairs have been reported at Lake Bangweulu, Zambia (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). The species feeds diurnally, and sometimes nocturnally, alone or in small flocks of up to five individuals, exceptionally more than 12 (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005), and when not foraging it roosts in trees (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Habitat The species inhabits seasonally flooded grasslands, marshes, flood-plains (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and inland deltas (such as the Okavango Delta) (Hancock and Kushlan 1984), shallow water along riverbanks and lake shores, stands of papyrus, reedbeds (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and rice-fields (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Diet Its diet consists of small fish (Tilapia and Barbus), frogs, crustaceans, aquatic insects and worms (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Breeding site The nest is a small platform of vegetation positioned low down (Brown et al. 1982, Kushlan and Hancock 2005) in reeds, trees or shrubs that are usually standing in water (Kushlan and Hancock 2005). It usually nests on the periphery of mixed-species colonies (del Hoyo et al. 1992).


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Ardeola rufiventris. Downloaded from on 18/08/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 18/08/2022.