Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)


French: Aigrette à face blanche German: Weißwangenreiher Spanish: Garceta cariblanca

Ardea novae Hollandiae


, 1790,

New South Wales, Australia


Formerly placed in genus Notophoyx, sometimes alongside E. picata; may be close to Ardea. Validity of race parryi uncertain. New Caledonia population sometimes separated as race nana. Two subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. n. novaehollandiae (Latham, 1790) – S Moluccas and Lesser Sundas through S New Guinea to Australia (except NW), New Zealand and New Caledonia; also Norfolk I, Lord Howe I, Chatham Is and probably Christmas I (Indian Ocean); apparently expanding its range, with resident populations becoming established in SW Pacific (Tonga since 1988, Fiji since 1997)#R; also disperses widely, reaching Solomon Is and Sulawesi, and recently SE China (Xiamen I)#R.
  • E. n. parryi (Mathews, 1912) – NW Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    58–69 cm; 500–550 g; wingspan 106 cm. Compared to Ardea cinerea, present species is smaller and more slender, with an overall more graceful appearance... read more


    Commonest vocalization is a “graak” or “graaw” given in flight, during intraspecific interactions... read more


    Very variable, including almost any kind of wetland with shallow water, fresh or brackish,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Generalist diet includes small fish, amphibians (including introduced Australian Hyla tree frogs in New Zealand), aquatic insects... read more


    In Australia season related to rains and local flooding, mainly Oct–Dec in S, later in N, but breeding in virtually all months across... read more


    Largely sedentary, with wide-ranging nomadic movements. Most birds from coastal parts of Victoria,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Commonest heron in Australia; almost ubi­quitous. In Australia and New Zealand, has benefited from clearing of woodlands,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae). 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 21 February 2020).