White-faced Heron

A White-faced Heron in flight
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Scientific Name: Egretta novaehollandiae

Size: 60 to 70 cm

What does it look like?

The White-faced Heron is mostly blue-grey in colour, with a characteristic white face. In flight, the dark flight feathers are contrasted against the paler grey plumage, making it 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. Both 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 generally duller, with little or no white on the face. Young birds often have a reddish colour on the underparts.

Where is it found?

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.

What are its habitats & habits?

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

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 amongst damp crevices or simply standing in the water and watching for movement.

White-faced Herons breed mainly between October and December, but may breed at other times 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 3 to 4, occasionally up to 7, young is raised in a year.

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Front cover of Australia's Birdwatching Megaspots book showing a picture of an Eastern Spinebill

This species features in my book Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots

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