Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

White-necked Heron (Ardea pacifica)


French: Héron à tête blanche German: Weißhalsreiher Spanish: Garza cuelliblanca
Other common names: Pacific Heron

Ardea pacifica


, 1801,

New South Wales, Australia




Australia (except arid interior); regularly reported in Tasmania, on islands in Bass Strait and in S New Guinea.

Descriptive notes

76–106 cm; 650–860 g; wingspan 147–160 cm. Distinguished from Egretta novaehollandiae by all-white head and adult E. picata by larger size... read more


Usually quiet, especially away from nest, but utters guttural croaking sound in alarm, and variety... read more


Shallow fresh water, flooded grassland, floodplains, rice fields, reservoirs, ephemeral or... read more

Food and feeding

Small aquatic and terrestrial animals, small birds, fish (normally under 3 cm, largest recorded was catfish of 10 cm), amphibians (frogs,... read more


Usually Sept–Feb (occasionally until Apr), during spring in S and summer rains in N; may occur year-round in wet years, depending on... read more


Nomadic, moves about exploiting seasonality of Australian wetlands, e.g. inland of Darwin breeds... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common in Australia, especially inland in SE; population stable, but has expanded to SW of Western Australia since 1950. Has... read more

Recommended citation

Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). White-necked Heron (Ardea pacifica). 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 13 December 2019).