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a genus of birds of the family Ardeidae of the order Ciconiiformes. The body measures approximately 50 cm long. The neck and legs are relatively short. The plumage is white, and the back and head are touched with rust- or chestnut-colored feathers. In birds that are courting, there are long ribbonlike feathers on the head.
There are five species. The Ardeola are distributed in southern Europe, in the southern half of Asia, and in Africa. There are two species in the USSR: the squacco heron (A. ralloides), which is found in the south (from the Danube to Syr Darya), and the Chinese pond-heron (A. bacchus), which is found in southern Primor’e Krai. The birds nest in colonies in trees or shrubs near bodies of water or in reeds. The clutch contains four or five eggs. The birds feed on insects, mollusks, and worms.