Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Pied Heron (Egretta picata)


French: Aigrette pie German: Elsterreiher Spanish: Garceta pía

Ardea (Herodias) picata


, 1845,

Port Essington, Northern Territory, Australia


Frequently included in genus Ardea; in past, occasionally in Tonophoyx or even Notophoyx. Monotypic.


S Sulawesi and N Australia; also (probably non-breeding visitor) S Moluccas and C Lesser Sundas E to Tanimbar Is, Aru Is and New Guinea; wanders elsewhere in Australia, e.g. Victoria.

Descriptive notes

43–55 cm; 210–372 g. Black face and crown with elongated plumes, white throat, lower face and neck, slate-black to dark blue back, wings and belly, with long... read more


Vocalizations poorly known, but gives soft cooing at nest and a croaking “ohrk” in flight and on... read more


Mainly coastal, occurring in grassland and swamps of salt or fresh water, mangroves, mudflats,... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly aquatic insects (grasshoppers, dragonfly larvae, water bugs, diving beetles and cockroaches), with crustaceans, amphibians, small... read more


Nesting occurs during summer monsoon, mainly Feb–Apr, but sometimes Jan–Jun; at Adelaide R, fairly late in Mar/Apr, when flood... read more


Poorly known. In Australia, sedentary with some erratic movements; regular non-breeding visitor to... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common or even abundant along coastal lowlands of N Australia; stronghold in floodplains threatened by invasion of Mimosa... read more

Recommended citation

Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Pied Heron (Egretta picata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 February 2020).