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The Javan pond heron is typically 45 cm long with white wings, a yellow bill with a black tip, yellow eyes and legs. Its overall colour is orange, slaty and white during mating season, and brown and flecked with white out of the mating season. The non-breeding plumage is similar to that of the Chinese and Indian pond herons and is virtually indistinguishable in the field. It breeds from June to September. It is migratory.