Purple Heron

Ardea purpurea (Linnaeus, 1766) UR PURHE 1240
Family: Pelecaniformes > Ardeidae

Purple Heron, Graham Catley

With its warm buff head and neck, black cap, grey back and deep chestnut shoulder patch, the adult Purple Heron is a smart bird, but one that favours the dense vegetation, such as reedbeds, of shallow waterbodies.

Purple Heron is considered an occasional breeder, and one for which proving breeding can be difficult. Its European breeding population has been expanding since at least the 1940s, with colonisation of France and the Netherlands signposting this species as a potential colonist to Britain & Ireland.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Purple Heron

  • Breeding
  • Winter
4.8k records observations recorded by BTO surveyors
4.8k records



Purple Heron identification is often straightforward.

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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



Purple Herons are regularly recorded in Britain in the spring, typically arriving during periods of warm southerly winds between April and May and occasionally staying into the summer. During 2008–11

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2



Purple Herons are very scarce and usually only encountered in spring and summer.

Weekly occurence of Purple Heron from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Purple Heron ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Purple Heron, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Sample sizes are too small to report Biometrics for this species.

Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Welsh: Crëyr Porffor
Catalan: agró roig
Czech: volavka cervená
Danish: Purpurhejre
Dutch: Purperreiger
Estonian: purpurhaigur
Finnish: ruskohaikara
French: Héron pourpré
German: Purpurreiher
Hungarian: vörös gém
Icelandic: Rauðhegri
Irish: Corr Chorcra
Italian: Airone rosso
Latvian: rudais garnis
Lithuanian: purpurinis garnys
Norwegian: Purpurhegre
Polish: czapla purpurowa
Portuguese: garça-roxa / garça-vermelha
Slovak: volavka purpurová
Slovenian: rjava caplja
Spanish: Garza imperial
Swedish: purpurhäger

Links to more information from ConservationEvidence.com

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