The white-faced heron is the most common heron in Australia and you can find them in wetlands around the region.
The white-faced heron is the most common heron in Australia and you can find them in wetlands around the region.

BIRD OF THE WEEK: Australia’s most common heron

The White-faced Heron loves wetlands, creeks, estuaries and mudflats and is the most common heron in Australia.

It is mostly light blue-grey in colour, with a characteristic white face and has a long, slim neck and a pointed grey-black bill.

The legs are long and dull yellow in colour with both sexes being similar.

It 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, using its foot to stir up mud or simply standing in the water and watching for movement.

Its long bill can be used to spear fish or pick insects from the water.

It will also be seen feeding with Ibis to take advantage of any food that is found.

When flying they have a very slow and graceful wing beat and often fly with the neck outstretched and the feet trailing behind.

When breeding, the birds have long feathers (nuptial plumes) on the head, neck and back as in the photo.

They build a very untidy nest of sticks on the branch of a tree and lay up to five eggs.

The chicks are very demanding and the parents have to work hard to feed them with regurgitated food.

The chicks will not fly from the nest until around 40 days after hatching so the parents have a busy time during that period.

Sometimes they will breed in a small colony of five to ten pairs.

They are very common around the Bundaberg area and can be seen just about anywhere there is water, from wetlands, creeks and rivers to the estuary at Burnett Heads and on tidal mudflats along the coast.

Allan Briggs is the secretary of BirdLife Capricornia, contact him with your birding questions at abriggs@irock.com.au

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