Harry the white-faced heron
Also called blue crane, grey heron (erroneously), blue heron
Hello fish-lovers. I'm Harry the white-faced heron. I fly all over the place looking for easy ways to find food.
I am not particular when it comes to a food source. I fly to various wetlands, creeks, swamps, coastal reefs, the Brisbane River, and tidal mudflats. I get a lot of variety in my diet that way.
I'm a quiet bird when fishing. I don't say much — I just wait and stalk my prey without making a sound. The photo above is deceptive. It looks like I'm yelling, but actually I've got my bill open because I just swallowed a long and hard water critter, and it was playing havoc with my throat as it went down. This photo caught me in the middle of a choking cough.
What do I eat?
I take a wide variety of food, depending where I go. In summer and autumn I spend a little more time wading in intertidal habitats, and in winter and spring I spend more time foraging on land, sometimes in pastures or on farmland.
I like small fish, but also eat prawns, small frogs, spiders, worms, molluscs, and insects.
I don't use a lot of energy hunting for my food. When wading in shallow water I wait till I see something in the water and then quickly try to snap it up. Sometimes I don't have a high success rate. That's why, when I'm flying from one feeding ground to another, I look out for uncovered fish ponds in suburban yards, fish farms and fish hatcheries, so I can stop off to get snacks along my journey.
Who are my friends?
Most water birds get on well with me, and the ducks at Calamvale Creek seem to hang around me as though I am one of them. You can see me in the photo above feeding next to Chuck the Duck.
When I'm foraging on mudflats I usually like to be alone, and will defend my feeding territory.
Where do I breed, and what does my nest look like?
White-faced herons mostly breed between October and December. We may breed at any other time of the year if there is a lot of rain and good food supplies.
Mother and father heron both share the nest building, incubating the eggs, and caring for the kids.
We build our nest high in a suitable tree, which may be nowhere near the water. The nest is often an untidy dish-like structure of sticks.
We usually have only one brood of three or four chicks a year, although there may occasionally be six chicks. Mrs White-faced Heron's eggs are pale blue-green, and are 48 millimetres long and 35 mm wide.
When white-faced herons are young their colours are not as prominent as adults'. They have very little white on their faces, and may display a red tinge on the underparts.
I have good eyesight, and can stand still or move super-slowly for a long time looking for movement in the water. Just look at the photo above. I'm staying absolutely still waiting for fish. You could come back and look at this photo tomorrow and you will see that I haven't moved.
— Harry the white-faced heron