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White-faced Heron, Egretta novaehollandiae


The White-faced Heron is a relatively small (650-680mm) heron, pale bluish-grey, with long, yellow legs and characteristic white facial markings. It has a long, slim neck and a pointed grey-black bill.

During the breeding season, long feathers known as nuptial plumes appear on the foreneck, head and back.

Immature birds are paler grey with only the throat white, and often have a reddish colour on the underparts. Chicks are typically covered with grey down. Sexes are similar.


It is locally nomadic and found in both fresh and salt water, including tidal mudflats, wetlands, farm dams, pastures, grasslands, crops, shores, saltmarsh, tidal mudflats, boat-harbours, beaches, golf courses, orchards and even in garden fish-ponds.


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


Breeding generally takes place in the spring, although they may breed outside the breeding season in response to rainfall. Males and females share the task of building the nest -an untidy shallow bowl, made of sticks and placed in a tree. The female lays 3-5 pale blue eggs. Both sexes incubate the eggs and care for the young.


The most common call is a harsh croak or gobble.
Distribution Map courtesy Natural Values Atlas, data from theLIST
© 2010 State of Tasmania


The White-faced Heron is a common bird throughout most of Australia. It is also found in New Guinea and Indonesia. It colonised New Zealand in 1941.

The White-faced Heron can be seen in most lowland areas in Tasmania. It is the only heron recorded breeding in Tasmania.