Animal Species:White-faced Heron

The White-faced Heron is mostly light blue-grey in colour, with a characteristic white face. They are the most commonly seen herons in Australia. They feed on a wide variety of prey, including fish, insects and amphibians.

White Faced Heron

G. Little © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

White-faced Heron

Identification

The White-faced Heron is mostly light blue-grey in colour, with a characteristic white face. In flight, the dark flight feathers of the wing contrast with the paler grey plumage, making this bird easily identifiable when viewed from below. It has a long, slim neck and a pointed grey-black bill. The legs are long and dull yellow in colour. Sexes are similar. When breeding, the birds have long feathers (nuptial plumes) on the head, neck and back. The White-faced Heron has a slow bouncing flight. Young White-faced Herons are similar in appearance to the non-breeding adults (no nuptial plumes), but are duller, with little or no white on the face. They often have a reddish colour on the underparts.

Size range

60 cm to 70 cm

Distribution

White-faced Herons are the most commonly seen herons in Australia. They are found throughout the mainland and Tasmania, and most coastal islands. They also occur in Indonesia, New Guinea, New Caledonia and New Zealand.

Habitat

White-faced Herons can be found anywhere where there is water, from tidal mudflats and coastal reefs to moist grasslands and gardens.

Feeding and Diet

The White-faced Heron feeds on a wide variety of prey, including fish, insects and amphibians. Food is obtained in a variety of ways, such as walking and disturbing prey, searching among damp crevices or simply standing in the water and watching for movement.

Mating and reproduction

White-faced Herons may breed outside the breeding season in response to rainfall. Both sexes share the building of the nest, incubation of the eggs and care of the young. The nest is an untidy structure of sticks, placed in a tree. Normally only one brood of young is raised in a year.

Breeding Season: October to December.

Classification

Species:
novaehollandiae
Genus:
Egretta
Family:
Ardeidae
Order:
Ciconiiformes
Class:
Aves

What does this mean?


Ondine Evans , Web Researcher/Editor
Last Updated:

Tags BIBY,