Black Heron – a clever hunter

Being out on safari quite often usually means that I get the chance to experience something new each time. After a while it becomes difficult to decide which moment was the best. Somehow it seems like you have seen it all, but then just the next day, you experience something even better!

This happened recently. Our group came across a black heron in Lake Manyara National Park. I am a keen birder so of course I had to show off this interesting bird to my guests…

Black herons are medium sized birds between 40-65 cm tall and named for the colour of their plumage. Their legs have a greyish colour and the feet are completely yellow. Their natural habitats are around wet areas such as rivers, lakes, ponds or swamps, but the most important aspect is that the water has to be shallow. The shallow Lake Manyara is perfect and is known among ornithologists for a large variety of migratory birds. It is this need for shallow water that distinguishes the black heron from others in its hunting tactics.


Step one: Walk to the potential feeding area.

Step two: Open wings to create a kind of umbrella shape and cast a shadow on the water which attracts the fish.

Step three: Eat!

Step four: Repeat steps one to three.


This hunting style is known as canopy feeding and it is highly amusing to watch. This is also the season why some people call it the umbrella bird. Birds feed alone and usually during the day, but you might sometimes find black herons feeding in groups. Lake Manyara National Park is an ideal spot to see various species of birds and is a ‘must’ for keen birders.