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White-faced Heron
Egretta novaehollandiae

Pelecaniformes Order – Ardeidae Family

BIOMETRICS:
Length : 67-70 cm 
Weight : 550 g

DESCRIPTION:
White-faced Heron has blue-grey plumage on head, neck, upperparts and wings. Underparts are paler with pinkish-brown feathers on chest.
In breeding plumage, it shows long feathers on head, neck and back.
In flight, we can see the darker flight feathers contrasting with body plumage.
It has white face, and narrow white stripe from chin and throat, to fore-neck centre.   
Long, straight, pointed bill is blackish, with dark lores. Eyes are yellowish. Legs and feet are greenish-yellow.
Both sexes are similar.
Juvenile is duller, and often lacks white on face. Underparts are reddish, conspicuous in flight.

FLIGHT:
White-faced Heron seems to fly slowly, with long sweeps of wings. It performs a slow bouncing flight. Neck is usually folded and legs and feet are trailing behind.

REPRODUCTION:
White-faced Heron breeds in small colonies of 5 to 10 pairs, sometimes more.
Nest-site is a short distance from water. This species favours tall trees like pines, or other large trees in which it can build its large loose nest, made with sticks, twigs and leafy branches. It is a bulky shallow platform situated at about 12 to 20 metres from the ground. Nest may be destroyed by strong winds and storms. Both sexes build the nest.

Female usually lays 2 to 4 pale dull greenish-blue eggs. Incubation lasts about 24 to 25 days, by both parents which relieve one another every ten hours.
Chicks are fed by regurgitation by their parents.
Young fledge 38 to 42 days after hatching, and often stay with parents until next reproduction.
White-faced Heron breeds mainly between October and December, but it may breed at other moment of the year, according to rainfalls.
If nest and brood are destroyed, this species can re-nest, even in summer.

DIET:
White-faced Heron feeds mainly on fish, crustaceans and worms, but also on rats, mice, small reptiles, eels, frogs, aquatic insects and their larvae.
During summer, they find large supply of crickets on farmlands and pastures. They also eat grasshoppers, caterpillars, flies, beetles, spiders and earthworms.

PROTECTION / THREATS / STATUS:
White-faced Heron is a protected species in Australia, where these birds are commonly seen.
It is common and widespread. This Heron benefited from conversion of forests to farmlands.       

Fr: White-faced Heron
All : Weißwangenreiher
Esp : Garceta Cariblanca
Ital :   Garzetta facciabianca
Nd : Witwangreiger
Russe : Цапля белолицая

Patrick Ingremeau
TAMANDUA

Text by Nicole Bouglouan

Sources:

HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 1 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334105

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

New Zealand birds and birding (Narena Olliver)

Welcome to the Australian Museum

 

Home page

Page Ardeidae Family

Summary Cards

 

VOICE: SOUNDS BY XENO-CANTO
White-faced Heron utters plaintive croaking calls repeated at short intervals “grr-aw” when flying from feeding area to another. These guttural sounds can be harsh.

HABITAT:
White-faced Heron lives where there is water. It can be found from tidal mudflats and coastal reefs, to wet grasslands and gardens.

RANGE:
White-faced Heron can be found in Australia, but it also occurs in Indonesia, New Guinea, New Caledonia and Sub-antarctic Islands.
This species was self-introduced to New Zealand in the late 1940s. It is absent from the dry interior of Western Australia.

BEHAVIOUR:
White-faced Heron thrives in a great variety of rich feeding areas, in both sea and inland waters.
Heron creeps stealthily in tidal lagoons and shallow waters, and wetlands, always ready to strike all prey swimming close to it. When prey is caught White-faced Heron takes is crosswise in its long bill, and then, it tosses it around for swallowing it head first. 

Heron may also poke about into the mud, or rake it with one foot, for taking crustaceans and aquatic worms. They can hunt in pairs or small flocks.
If disturbed, White-faced Heron is prompt to depart the place with slow wing beats.

It may be observed resting in trees. It defends sometimes distinct territories.

White-faced Heron is nomadic and partially migratory. It is mainly a winter visitor in Northern Territory and Cape York Peninsula.