White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)

White-faced Heron

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Ardeidae | [latin] Egretta novaehollandiae | [authority] Latham, 1790 | [UK] White-faced Heron | [FR] Heron a face blanche | [DE] Weisswangenreiher | [ES] Garceta cariblanca | [NL] Witwangreiger


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Egretta novaehollandiae AU widespread


Egretta is a genus of medium-sized herons, mostly breeding in warmer climates. Representatives of this family are found in most of the world, and the Little Egret, as well as being widespread throughout much of the Old World, has now started to colonise the Americas. Little Egret Egretta garzetta in Kolleru, Andhra Pradesh, India.These are typical egrets in shape, long-necked and long-legged. There are few plumage features in common, although several have plumes in breeding plumage; a number of species are either white in all plumages, have a white morph (e.g. Reddish Egret), or have a white juvenile plumage (Little Blue Heron). The breeding habitat of Egretta herons is marshy wetlands in warm countries. They nest in colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs.

Physical charateristics

The adult White-faced Heron is relatively small (height 60-70cm). Pale blue-grey. The forehead, crown, chin and upper throat are white. The crown pattern is variable, with the white occasionally spreading down the neck; the variability makes identification of individuals possible.[2] The iris may be grey, green, dull yellow or cinnamon.[2] The regions between the eye and bill on the side of the head (lores) are black. The beak is black and often pale grey at the base.[2] During the breeding season pinkish-brown or bronze nuptial plumes appear on the foreneck and breast, with blue-grey plumes appearing on the back.

wingspan min.: 100 cm wingspan max.: 110 cm
size min.: 65 cm size max.: 69 cm
incubation min.: 24 days incubation max.: 26 days
fledging min.: 38 days fledging max.: 42 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


Australasia : widespread. The White-faced Heron is found throughout most of Australasia, including New Guinea, the islands of Torres Strait, Indonesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, the islands of the sub-Antarctic, and all but the driest areas of Australia. The species is now resident on Christmas Island but has not yet been recorded breeding there. It is also commonly found on Lombok, Flores and Sumbawa, and has appeared as a vagrant in China, the Cocos Islands and the Solomon Islands. It is mostly a winter visitor to the Northern Territory. It was self-introduced to New Zealand in the late 1940s. It is the only heron recorded breeding in Tasmania


The White-faced Heron is locally nomadic and found in both fresh and salty wetlands, farm dams, pastures, grasslands, crops, shores, saltmarsh, tidal mudflats, boat-harbours, beaches, golf courses, orchards or in garden fish-ponds


Breeding generally takes place in the spring, but the birds may breed at other times in response to rainfall. Breeding generally takes place in southern Australia, and birds disperse for long distances at other times of year. Both sexes share the task of building the nest, incubating the eggs and caring for the young. The nest is an untidy shallow bowl, made of sticks and usually placed on a leafy branch 5-12 m high, at altitudes from sea level to over 1000 m. When breeding the birds have long feathers (nuptial plumes) on the neck, head and back. A typical clutch has 3-5 pale blue eggs. with an average size of 48.5

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