Varied Heron family

The Pied Heron is quite happy in either fresh or salt water.

Birds in our World with Keith Ireland

The Pied Heron (pictured) is a bird of the Tropics of Northern Australia. Its range also extends down the east coast to about the Tropic of Capricorn.

It is quite happy in either fresh or salt water and at times, large flocks of over a hundred birds can be seen foraging together. At just under 50cm in height, it is one of the smaller Herons.

In the family of Long Legged Water Birds, there are six that are known as Herons. There are a couple of other birds that can be called either Herons or Egrets eg the Reef Heron which can also be named Reef Egret.

The largest Heron is the Great-billed, a large bird of about one and a half meters high, virtually grey all over with white on its face. It is a shy bird spending much time hiding away where there is plenty of cover. It likes to forage on the mud flats and in shallow water.

The second largest of the group is the White necked Heron.

This is one of the two Herons that can be found in all parts of Australia. It has a long white neck and is grey on the wings and back.

The White faced Heron is the other member that is found Australia wide. Its plumage is a blue grey colour which, in the early days, caused it to be given the name ‘Blue Crane’.

One of the Herons that is quite different to the others is the Striated Heron also known as the Mangrove Heron because that is the type of terrain that it inhabits. The main difference is that, whereas all the others are long-legged, this bird has shorter legs and has a more dumpy body. The Striated is in our area, and is a darkish green colour.