Capricorn Coast Birds
  Egrets and Herons  
Egrets and herons are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds in the family Ardeidae, one of their distindtive features is flying with their necks retracted, not outstretched.
They hunt by wading through the shallows or standing motionless before stabbing at prey and use a variety of techniques to find food including standing still and waiting for prey movement, walking slowly in shallow water, wing flicking and foot raking.
  Great Egret
Ardea alba
Average size 80cm
  Intermediate Egret
Egretta intermedia
Average size 70cm
Distribution; throughout Australia, with the exception of the most arid areas, and are found across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world.
Habitat; shallow water including mangrove estuaries, wetlands and damp grasslands.
go to Great Egret main page
Distribution; coastal north and east Australia, occasionally in Victoria and South Australia, also from east Africa across tropical southern Asia.
Habitat; wetlands with shallow water, wet grasslands and pastures, they are also found in mangroves, mudflats, and estuaries.
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  Little Egret
Egretta garzetta
Average size 60 cm
Cattle Egret
Ardea ibis
Average size 50cm
Distribution; coastal and inland areas of northern, eastern and south-eastern Australia, they are common in the north but uncommon in the south. They are also found in Africa, Europe, Asia and New Guinea.
Habitat; tidal mudflats, saltwater and freshwater wetlands, and mangroves. They can be nomadic and migratory, depending on water levels in wetlands and other climatic factors, but here they seem to be permanent.
Diet; fish, insects, amphibians, crustaceans, and small reptiles that they stalk in shallow water, sometimes running with raised wings or shuffling their feet to disturb small fish or standing still and waiting to ambush prey.
In the breeding season the plumage includes two ribbon-like head plumes and abundant plumes on the back and breast. The sexes are alike and breeding occurs in colonies with other waterbirds where a rough nest of sticks is built over water, both sexes incubate the eggs and share other parental duties.

Distribution; originally native to parts of Asia, Africa and Europe, these have undergone a rapid expansion in their distribution and successfully colonised much of the rest of the world. In Australia the colonisation began in the 1940s, with the species establishing itself in the north and east of the continent.
Habitat; grasslands, woodlands, wetlands and pastures and croplands, they are often seen with cattle and other stock.
Diet; grasshoppers, frogs, cane toads, lizards and some small mammals. 
Males and females are similar and during breeding season develop a bright orange crown, neck and breast, with similarly tinted long loose neck plumes. They breed in colonies and build a shallow platform nest in wetland areas in trees and bushes, usually as high up as possible.

  White-faced Heron
Egretta novaehollandiae
Average size 68cm
  White-necked Heron
Ardea pacifica
Average size 95cm
Distribution; Australian mainland, they also occur in Indonesia, New Guinea, New Caledonia and New Zealand.
Habitat; fresh and salty wetlands, farm dams, pastures, grasslands, crops, shores, salt marsh, tidal mudflats, boat-harbours.
Diet; fish, insects and amphibians.
The sexes are similar, during the breeding season pinkish-brown or bronze plumes appear on the fore neck and breast, with blue-grey plumes appearing on the back.
  Distribution; throughout Australia, except in the most arid regions, and New Guinea.
Habitat; freshwater wetlands and adjacent wet grasslands.
go to White-necked Heron main page
  Eastern Reef Egret
Egretta sacra
Average size65 cm
  Striated Heron
Butorides striatus
Average size 49cm
Distribution; the coast and islands of most of Australia but are more common on the Queensland coast and Great Barrier Reef than elsewhere. They are also found in the oceanic region of India, Southeast Asia, Japan, Polynesia and New Zealand.
Habitat; beaches, rocky shores, tidal rivers and inlets, mangroves, and exposed coral reefs.
Diet; small fish, crustaceans, molluscs and insect.
The sexes are similar and build a stick nest platform lined with seaweed is built in trees or on the ground under shrubs or rock ledges.
There are two colour forms; a white form that has a white body and wings and a dark form that has a slate-grey body and wings as in the photo.
  Distribution; the coast of mainland Australia, from Shark Bay, Western Australia, across northern Australia to Cape York, Queensland, and south to Mallacoota, Victoria, though they are more common in the north. They are also found in North and South America, Africa, Asia, New Guinea and many Pacific islands.
Habitat; mangroves, estuaries and intertidal flats.
Diet; crabs and other crustaceans, as well as molluscs, small fish, frogs and aquatic insects.
The sexes are similar, the nest is a rough stick platform in the mangroves.