Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Ardea sumatrana Raffles, 1822

Species:A. sumatrana
Common Names:Great-billed Heron, Dusky Grey Heron, Sumatran Heron, Pucung Lembu, Burung Lembu
Status:Rare resident. Nationally endangered.


Adults have entirely dusky grey plumage with long silvery-grey pointed plumes on crest, nape, upper breast and scapulars. Immatures are like adults but lack the silvery-grey plumes and its plumage are browner with underparts streaked with white.

Size: 1.15 m

Soft parts: Iris yellow, naked skin around eye yellow-green. Upper mandible black, lower mandible pale flesh with yellowish tip. Feet and claws black.

Read more about the Pelecaniformes order.
Read more about the Ardeidae family.


Indochina to Malay Peninula, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo, Java and Bali, Philippines, the Moluccas and New Guinea.


Mainly in Southern Islands, especially Pulau Hantu, Pulau Salu, Pualu Semakau and Pualu Sudong. Also seen at mainland: Changi, Chek Jawa, Keppel Harbour, Kranji, Labrador, Sarimbun, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Sungei Pandan, Tuas, West Coast

Locality Map

General Biology

The Great-billed Heron is usually found singly or in pairs, keeping about the reef flats, mudflats and edges of mangroves. It hunts over open, exposed mudflats or by waiting motionless in the incoming tide. It perches on mangrove trees during high tide.

The call is said to be a deep loud note, repeated several times.

Breeding was first recorded in 1978 on Pulau Bukom although a young bird was caught from Changi in 1906. It is not known to breed on other islands, although it is suspected to breed on Pulau Semakau, where an adult was seen near a nest on a mangrove tree. Courtship was observed in June and November. Nest building in June and July. Brood observed in September. Chicks seen in April. Clutch size is 2.


Feeds on fish, small mammals, birdss, snakes, frogs, lizard, crabs and insects.


Formal records of Ardea sumatrana collected from Singapore:

Raffles Museum Collection: 1 (1 MM)
University of Washington Burke Museum: 1 (1 FF)


Wang, L. K. 2011. Herons. Pp. 341–342. In: Ng, P. K. L., R. T. Corlett & H. T. W. Tan (editors). Singapore Biodiversity. An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development. Editions Didier Millet, Singapore. 552 pp.

Wang, L.K. & Hails, C.J. 2007. An annotated checklist of birds of Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 15: 1–179, Singapore.

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