This is a stocky species with a short neck, short thick bill and buff-brown back. In summer, adults have long neck feathers. Its appearance is transformed in flight, when it looks very white due to the colour of the wings. It is very similar to the Squacco Heron, Ardeola ralloides, but is darker-backed. To the east of its range, it is replaced by the Chinese Pond Heron, Ardeola bacchus.
The Indian Pond Heron's breeding habitat is marshy wetlands in warm countries. They nest in small colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. 3-5 eggs are laid. These herons feed on insects, fish and amphibians. During the breeding season, there are records of individuals with red legs. The numbers do not suggest that this is the normal change during the breeding season and some have suggested the possibility of it being genetic variants.
This is a very common species in India, where it is often quite tame and easily approachable. It can often be seen foraging around rubbish heaps on the outskirts of villages, as well as in more natural habitats.
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