AudioDateDownLeftRightUpIconClosefacebookReportGallerySettingsGiftLanguageGridListMapMenunoAudionoPhotoPhotoPlayPlusSearchStartwitterUserVideo

Whistling Heron Syrigma sibilatrix

  • Order: Pelecaniformes
  • Family: Ardeidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors: Sam Dean
Sections

Behavior

Behavior

Time when active: Diurnal

Foraging: Whistling Herons forage primarily alone or in pairs. When foraging, Whistling Herons stand or slowly walk in an upright posture in very shallow water or marshy areas. They occasionally wave their heads in an exaggerated manner before striking at prey (Kushlan et al. 1982).

Flight: Distinct in flight from other herons due to their short, stiff, and relatively rapid wing beats. One record clocks them at 273 wing beats per minute. They fly with their neck partially retracted, extending it to full length when calling (Kahl 1971).

Roost: Socially in trees (Kushlan et al. 1982).

Other behavior: Kahl (1971) observed two Whistling Herons walking rapidly side by side with their head plumes and upper neck feathers strongly erected and their bills held high (just above horizontal). Every four or five steps one of the birds (presumably the male but it is unknown) bowed forward until its bill almost touched the ground, then it stood up once more and continued marching alongside the other bird. This behavior is believed to be a possible courtship display.

Territoriality

Whistling Herons defend their feeding territory (Kushlan et al. 1982). When their feeding territory is threatened, they will defend it by raising their crests, stretching their neck out, and whistling, jabbing, and probing the intruder with their bill (Kushlan and Hancock 2005).

Sexual Behavior

Male Whistling Herons have a display flight that they exhibit in front of females which involves flying back and forth and gliding in circles (Sick 1993, Kushlan and Hancock 2005). Kahl (1971) observed two Whistling Herons walking rapidly side by side with their head plumes and upper neck feathers strongly erected and their bills held high (just above horizontal). Every four or five steps one of the birds (presumably the male but it is unknown) bowed forward until its bill almost touched the ground, then it stood up once more and continued marching alongside the other bird. This behavior is believed to be a possible courtship display.

Social and interspecific behavior

Agnostic encounters with conspecifics involve beak jabbing, raising crests, uttering shrill whistles, and head weaving (Kushlan et al. 1982). They also attempt piracy when the opportunity arises in the course of foraging (Kushlan and Hancock 2005).

Predation

There are no listed predators of Whistling Heron in the literature, but it is likely that medium-to-large sized mammals would reasonably eat a heron of this size.

Recommended Citation

Dean, S. 2012. Whistling Heron (Syrigma sibilatrix), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.whiher1.01