This is the world's largest heron. The standing height averages over 1.4 m (4.5 ft), with a wingspan of at least 2 m (7 ft) and a weight of about 4 kg (9 lb). In flight it has a slow and rather ponderous look and, unlike some other herons, its legs are not held horizontally. Male and female look similar, with an overall covering of slate gray and chestnut feathers. The head and its bushy crest, face, back and sides of the neck are chestnut. The chin, throat, foreneck and upper breast are white, with black streaks across the foreneck and upper breast. The lower breast and belly are buff with black streaks. The upper mandible is black and the lores and orbital areas are yellow with a greenish tinge. The eyes are yellow and legs and feet are black. Juveniles look similar to the adults, but are paler.
Goliath Herons feed on fish, amphibians and little rodents. A diurnal and often rather inactive feeder, this heron hunts by standing in the shallows, or on floating vegetation, intently watching the water at its feet. As prey appears, the heron rapidly spears it with open mandibles.
Its breeding season is from November to March. These birds build a large stick nest in trees overhanging water, on the ground and in low bushes.
Images for kids
At iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
Goliath Heron Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.