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Ardea pacifica

General description: 

A large heron with a white head and a long white neck with a double line of black spots running down the front. The upperparts of the body are slate-black, with plum-coloured nuptial plumes on the back and breast during the breeding season. Underparts are grey streaked with white. The bill is black, the naked facial skin is is blue or yellow, the eyes are green, and the legs and feet are black. The White-necked Heron is sometimes known as the Pacific Heron. A loud croak is uttered as an alarm call. Other gutteral calls are uttered at the nest.

Conservation status: 

Not Threatened.

Diagnostic description: 

A large heron with a white head and a long white neck with a double line of black spots running down the front. The upperparts of the body are slate-black, with plum-coloured nuptial plumes on the back and breast during the breeding season. Underparts are grey streaked with white. The bill is black, the naked facial skin is is blue or yellow, the eyes are green, and the legs and feet are black. The White-necked Heron is sometimes known as the Pacific Heron. A loud croak is uttered as an alarm call. Other gutteral calls are uttered at the nest.

Behaviour: 

Size: 

76-106 cm, 900 g

Phylogeny: 

Taxonomy:

    Ardea pacifica Latham, 1801, New South Wales. Monotypic. (source: Handbook of the Birds of World)
Distribution: 

Distribution:

    Australia and Tasmania; scarce, but probably regular, in S New Guinea.
Habitat: 

Although White-necked Herons are sometimes seen in tidal areas, most are found in shallow fresh waters, including farm dams, flooded pastures, claypans, and even roadside ditches.

Trophic strategy: 

Feed by wading in shallow water or stalking through wet grass looking for fish, amphibians, crustaceans and insects.

Reproduction: 

White-necked Herons will breed in any month of the year in response to good rain, but most breeding occurs between September and December. The nest is a loose platform in a living tree such as a river red gum near or over water. The nests may be solitary or in loose colonies. Eggs are incubated by both parents. Breeding season: Mainly September to December. Clutch size: Up to six, usually three or four. Incubation: 30 days Time in nest: 45 days

Taxonomic name: