Goliath Heron by John Murray
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The Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath), also known as the Giant Heron, is a very large wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae. It is found in sub-Saharan Africa, with smaller numbers in Southwest and South Asia. This is the world's largest heron. The Goliath Heron has a distinct deep bark, often described as kowoork, audible from a distances of up to 2 km. The Goliath Heron is very aquatic, even by heron standards, rarely venturing far from a water source and preferring to fly along waterways rather than move over land. Important habitats can include lakes, swamps, mangrove wetlands, reefs with few cool water, sometimes river deltas. It typically is found in shallows, though can be observed near deep water over dense water vegetation. Goliath Herons can even be found in small watering holes. They have ranged in elevation from sea level to 2,100 m (6,900 ft). They tend to prefer pristine wetlands and generally avoid areas where human disturbances are a regular occurrence. Goliath Herons are solitary foragers and are highly territorial towards other Goliaths entering their feeding territories. On occasions, two may be seen together but these are most likely to a be breeding pair or immatures. A diurnal and often rather inactive feeder, this heron often hunts by standing in the shallows, intently watching the water at its feet. Despite their ponderous movements, Goliath Herons can think quickly and often take flight before mammalian carnivores (such as hyenas or jackals) can predate them.