General Description

Body blue-grey, face white, breast feathers brown-purple. Neck long and slim, bill pointed and grey. Legs slender and yellow. During breeding season long feathers (nuptial plumes) develop on back, neck and head. Bill to tail length is up to 70 cm. Flight is slow and bouncing.


The most commonly seen heron in Australia. White-faced Herons feed in shallow water on intertidal mud flats and reefs, and also in pastures. They eat crustaceans, fish, frogs, insects and worms. Prey is caught by standing still in the water searching for movement, or by wading through water and disturbing animals. Herons can breed outside of their normal breeding season in response to rainfall, but usually produce only one brood per year. The nest is a messy shallow structure made from sticks built within a tree. Both sexes construct the nest, incubate the eggs and care for the chicks. Typical clutch size is three to five eggs.


New Zealand, New Caledonia, Indonesia and New Guinea. Mainland Australia, Tasmania and coastal islands.


Anywhere with water including mudflats, wetlands, grasslands, pastures, saltmarshes, urban areas, and coastal bays and inlets.

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