Species Index

Egretta sacra
(Gmelin, 1789)

Common Name: Pacific Reef Heron

Distribution: Widely distributed across southern Asia and Oceania. In Australia, the species inhabits most of the coastline and offshore islands, including the Torres Strait Islands.

Ecological Notes: Prey items include fish and other small aquatic animals. It will sometimes stand quietly with wings spread to attract fish to the shade and/or reduce glare from the water surface. Prey, when within range, is captured by a sudden jabbing down action.

Additional Notes: The species displays an unusual, non-sexual dimorphism, with most individuals possessing charcoal-grey plumage, whilst others have entirely white plumage. It may often be recognised by its feeding behaviour: it feeds in clear water and hunts its prey by stealth, by crouching low as it moves through shallow water or over rocks and coral. The somewhat similar White-faced Heron has more yellow legs, a more pronounced white patch on the face and a more slender bill.

References: Atlas of Living Australia at Pacific Reef Heron Accessed 14 August 2023.

Birds in Backyards at Accessed 24 July 2023.