White-faced Heron

The white-faced heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) is the only pale grey heron with a white face and yellow legs. The sexes are similar. It has a stout, straight, black bill, with long nuptial plumes, grey on the back and chestnut on the breast.

White-faced herons have a special hinge mechanism at the sixth vertebrae enabling a rapid, piercing thrust of the neck to catch prey.

They are common, seen almost where ever there is shallow water, from offshore islands and mudflats, to lakes, swamps and garden ponds. They feed on many kinds of small animals including crustaceans, fish, reptiles, birds and amphibians. They thrive when there is a mouse or grasshopper plague.

White-faced herons breed from September to November, and the nest is a loose platform of sticks, not necessarily near water, usually in colonies, with 3 to 5 eggs. They perch, roost and nest in trees.

Their flight is stately, slow beating wing showing contrasting pale grey of body and darker grey flight feathers.(Contributed by Jo G.)