White-faced Heron (Egretta Novaehollandiae)

Three white-faced herons squabble as they approach a perch (East Timor)

This photo by Colin Trainor (Wikipedia)

White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) is a medium-sized heron found in Australia, New Zealand, and some parts of the western Pacific region.

DISTRIBUTION

The White-faced Heron is widespread throughout Australia, occurring in various habitats such as coastal areas, wetlands, estuaries, rivers, and inland water bodies. It is also found in parts of New Zealand and nearby islands.

White-faced Heron
Photography by Pascal Roth (from Birdlife)

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

This heron measures around 60 to 70 centimetres (about 24 to 28 inches) in length and has a wingspan of approximately 90 to 105 centimetres (about 35 to 41 inches). Its plumage is predominantly slate-grey, and it has a distinctive white face, throat, and front of the neck. During the breeding season, adults may develop long, slender plumes on their backs and chest.

FEEDING BEHAVIOUR

White-faced Herons are opportunistic feeders and have a varied diet. They primarily eat small fish, crustaceans, insects, frogs, and other aquatic creatures. They are skilled at stalking their prey and may stand motionless for long periods before striking with their sharp beaks to catch their food.

Photography by Jonathan Steinbeck (from Birdlife Australia)

BREEDING

Breeding occurs during the warmer months. The herons build nests in trees, shrubs, or on the ground near water bodies. The female lays 2 to 4 eggs, and both parents take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks.

CONSERVATION STATUS

As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, the White-faced Heron is not considered globally threatened and is classified as a species of “Least Concern” by the IUCN. However, like many bird species, they face challenges related to habitat loss and disturbance in some regions

TAXONOMY

The White-faced Heron belongs to the family Ardeidae, which includes various species of herons, egrets, and bitterns.

REFERENCES

Wikipedia

Birdlife Australia

Field Guide to Australian Birds -Michael Morcombe

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