Egretta novaehollandiae

General description: 

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.

Conservation status: 

Not Threatened.

Diagnostic description: 

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.

Behaviour: 

Size: 

60-70 cm

Phylogeny: 

Taxonomy:

    Ardea novae Hollandiae Latham, 1790, New South Wales. Formerly placed in genus Notophoyx, often alongside E. picata; may be close to Ardea. Validity of race parryi uncertain; birds of New Caledonia sometimes placed in separate race nana. Two subspecies usually recognized. (source: Handbook of the Birds of World)
Distribution: 

Subspecies and Distribution:

    *novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) - New Zealand, Australia, S New Guinea, New Caledonia and S Indonesia; probably in process of colonizing Christmas I (Indian Ocean). *parryi (Mathews, 1912) - NW Australia.
Habitat: 

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

Trophic strategy: 

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.

Reproduction: 

Oct-Dec but 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.