Pied heron

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Pied heron
Pied Heron - Fogg Dam.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Egretta
E. picata
Binomial name
Egretta picata
(Gould, 1845)[2]
Egretta picata map.svg
Distribution. Green: year-round breeding, blue: nonbreeding.
  • Notophoyx aruensis
  • Ardea picata[3]

The pied heron (Egretta picata), also known as the pied egret[4] is a bird found in coastal and subcoastal areas of monsoonal northern Australia as well as some parts of Wallacea and New Guinea.


Pied heron (juvenile) - Fogg Dam - Middle Point - Northern Territory - Australia

The species was originally described by ornithologist John Gould in 1845. Recent taxonomists put this species in the genus Egretta. There are no recognised subspecies.[5]

Pied heron feeding - Fogg Dam - Middle Point - Northern Territory - Australia
Pied heron in breeding plumage - Fogg Dam - Middle Point - Northern Territory - Australia


It is a small heron, 43–55 cm long, with dark slaty wings, body, and crested head, with a white throat and neck. The appearance is similar to the white-necked heron.[4] Males (247–280 g) are heavier than females (225–242 g), but the two are similar in appearance.[6]

Immature birds lack the crest as well as the dark colouring on the head and may look like small versions of the white-necked heron. The juveniles were once classified as a separate species.[6]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Its habitat mainly comprises a range of wetlands and wet grasslands.



The call of the pied heron is a loud 'awk' or 'ohrk' in flight.[4] Soft cooing is given around the nest.[6] Little else is known about vocalisations.[6]


Breeding takes place from February to May.[4] It nests in trees above the water, including mangroves, often colonially with other species of heron. 1–2 blue-green eggs are laid in a shallow platform of sticks.[4]


It feeds on insects, frogs, crabs, fish and other small aquatic animals. Insects are the most important source of food.[6] It may feed alone or in groups of up to a thousand individuals.[6]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2019). "Egretta picata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2019: e.T22697037A155512365. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22697037A155512365.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ BirdLife International (2008). "Ardea picata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2008. Retrieved 9 February 2009. Database entry includes justification for why the species is listed as least concern.
  3. ^ BirdLife International (2006) Species factsheet: Ardea picata. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=3727 on 25/02/2010
  4. ^ a b c d e Pizzey, Graham; Knight, Frank (1997). Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Sydney, Australia: HarperCollinsPublishers. p. 111. ISBN 0-207-18013-X.
  5. ^ "Pied Heron, Egretta picata, Taxonomy". Retrieved 25 February 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Kushlan, James Anthony; Hancock, James; Thelwell, David (2005). The Herons. Oxford University Press. p. 170. ISBN 0-19-854981-4.


External links[edit]