Madagascar Pond Heron (Ardeola idae)

Madagascar Pond Heron (Ardeola idae)

Photo@Raymond Galea

The Malagasy Pond Heron is a buff brown streaked small heron, and when breeding is snow white with a blue bill and red legs.In nonbreeding plumage the crown and back of head are buff, broadly streaked black. The bill is green grey with a black tip. The irises are yellow and the lores are green. The sides of the head and throat are yellow buff streaked narrowly with blackish-brown. The upper and lower back is brown with white or buff streaks. The rump and tail are white. Upper wings are brown with white or buff streaks. The flight feathers, in contrast, are white and are conspicuous in flight. Underparts are heavily streaked black and buff brown, contrasting with the lower belly and under tail coverts. The legs are green yellow or green grey.

In the breeding season the Malagasy Pond Heron becomes entirely snow white. The crown has a dense crest. Dense plumes also occur on the back of the neck, back, fore neck and breast. These give the bird a characteristic fluffy appearance. The bill is a deep azure blue with a black tip. The irises are yellow and the lores are green with some red on the orbital skin. The legs are rose pink, with green toes. The intermediate plumage is a mixture of new brown feathers, starting on the back.
In Kenya, this species can be seen in May-October in birding spot like Lake Baringo, Musiara Swamp, Masai Mara National Reserve, Lake Naivasha , Limuru Oxygenated pond and the seasonal Lake Amboseli and the swamp found in mid-centre of the park.

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