White-faced Heron (Ardea novahollandiae): is also known as the White-fronted Heron and Blue Crane.
The White-faced Heron is between 660 – 685 millimetres tall. Its body is pale-grey with a white face and long yellow legs.
Birds are usually observed singly or in pairs. Birds sometimes gather in flocks in autumn and winter.
It is the most familiar Heron in Australia. They are found throughout mainland Australia and Tasmania. The species is also found in Indonesia, New Guinea. White-faced Herons became established in New Zealand in the 1940’s. We do not know if they were deliberately introduced into New Zealand or made their own way across the Tasman Sea. White-faced Herons sometime visit Lord Howe Island and southern islands including Macquarie Island.
Its flight is rather stately with deliberate beats. In flight, the neck is usually folded but may be extended during short flights. The call is a gravely and harsh croaking.
White-faced Herons are found almost wherever there is shallow water including mudflats, swamps, lakes, farm dams, garden ponds and golf courses.
Their nest is small, untidy, and shallow and built of sticks at least five metres above the ground. Some time ago we observed a nest in a tall tree in Royal National Park south of Sydney.
The photo shows a White-faced Heron on Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve on the North Coast of New South Wales. The Herons, on the Island, seem to spend their time well away from water catching insects in the dense vegetation. This is the first time we have observed White-faced Herons feeding away from water.