Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Plumed Egret (Ardea plumifera)


French: Héron plumifère German: Pazifikmittelreiher Spanish: Garceta plumífera

Herodias plumiferus


, 1848,

New South Wales


Frequently placed in genus Egretta or sometimes in Mesophoyx, but DNA analyses indicate closer genetic link with Ardea#R. Hitherto considered conspecific with A. brachyrhyncha and A. intermedia, but differs from latter in characters listed under that species, and from former (to which it is much more similar despite greater geographical disjunction) in its smaller size (effect size for tail −3.08, score 2) but longer bill (effect size 1.809, score 1) (3); head tucked into chest vs head and neck horizontal in snap-display (2); “glock” and “kroo” call in alarm vs apparently none (allow 3); confirmation needed on this vocal evidence, but given the interposition of A. intermedia and the morphometric disjunction of the taxa this uncertainty is provisionally overruled here. Monotypic.


Lowland New Guinea and Aru Is, and S through Australia. In winter reaches Tasmania, and probably also Moluccas and E Lesser Sundas.

Descriptive notes

56–72 cm; 400–500 g. All-white plumage with cream or off-white tinge, slight crest but no head plumes. Compared to A. intermedia (especially) and A.... read more


Presumably very similar to A. brachyrhyncha and A. intermedia (which see),... read more


Mostly in freshwater wetlands (< 80 mm deep), shallows of rivers, swamps with short or tall... read more

Food and feeding

Adults take insects (crickets, grasshoppers, waterbugs, larvae, spider egg-case), fish (typically < 10 cm long, including Carassius... read more


Season in Australia, Oct–Apr in N, Oct–Jan in SE. Monogamous. Colonial, often breeding alongside other herons, spoonbills (e.g. Royal... read more


Australian birds apparently sedentary, but great variations in numbers suggest significant... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread in N & E Australia, but local inland and perhaps decreasing in second-named area, with up to 130,000 counted during... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Plumed Egret (Ardea plumifera). 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 29 February 2020).