This heron is a colonial breeder that sometimes occurs in very large colonies. The birds also gather in large numbers at nighttime roosts. It is mainly silent but its shrill, harsh-sounding ‘karr’ is usually heard at dusk.
When feeding however, it is a solitary species. These birds have also been observed using a baiting technique to catch prey – they take an insect or piece of leaf and place it in the water within striking range and then wait for a fish to approach the floating object. This behaviour is very rare and has only been recorded in green-backed and squacco herons. They also walk very slowly in search of prey either in the open or among the reeds.