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The Chinese Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchus) is an East Asian freshwater bird of the heron family, (Ardeidae).
It is one of six species of birds known as "pond herons" (genus Ardeola). It is parapatric (or nearly so) with the Indian pond heron (A. grayii) to the west and the Javan Pond Heron (A. speciosa) to the south, and these three are presumed to form a superspecies. As a group they are variously affiliated with the squacco heron (A. ralloides) or the Malagasy pond heron (A. idae). As of mid-2011 there are no published molecular analyses of pond heron interrelationships and osteological data is likewise not analyzed for all relevant comparison taxa.
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Description and ecology
The Chinese pond heron is typically 47 cm long with white wings, a yellow bill with a black tip, yellow eyes and legs. Its overall colour is red, blue and white during breeding season, and greyish-brown and flecked with white at other times.
Length: 47 cm
Wingspan: 75 - 90 cm
• Non-breeding adults are very similar to Indian Pond Heron and Javan Pond Heron, but they have darker backs and tips to primaries.
• In breeding plumage has darker head and upper breast than Javan Pond Heron and rufous crest plumes (not whitish buff). Javan Pond Heron is also shorter-winged, smaller-billed and smaller-bodied.
In non-breeding plumage has a darker back than Squacco Heron and lacks any black streaking on head and crest.
It is found in shallow fresh and salt water wetlands and ponds in China and adjacent temperate and subtropical East Asia. Essentially a lowland bird, its range is delimited by the subarctic regions in the north, and by the mountain ranges in the west and south.
The species is prone to some vagrancy. One individual in breeding plumage was seen by the river at Bonzon near Gangaw – just inside the Chin State of Burma – west of the species' usual range, on April 8, 1995. A stray bird stopping over on Saint Paul Island, Alaska on August 4–9, 1997 was the first recorded occurrence of this species in the United States.
Its food consists of insects, fish, and crustaceans. The Chinese pond heron often nests in mixed-species heronries. It lays a clutch of 3–6 blue-green eggs.