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Species Guide
A photo of a Pied Heron (Egretta picata)
Pied Heron

Pied Heron

Egretta picata

The pied heron, known scientifically as Egretta picata, presents a striking figure with its dark slaty wings, body, and crested head, contrasted by a white throat and neck. This small heron measures between 43 to 55 cm in length. Males, weighing between 247 to 280 grams, are slightly heavier than females, who tip the scales at 225 to 242 grams. Both sexes share a similar appearance.

Identification Tips

Adult pied herons can be identified by their distinctive dark and white plumage and the crest on their head. Immature birds, however, lack the crest and the dark head, which may cause them to be mistaken for small white-necked herons.


The pied heron favors a variety of wetland environments, including wet grasslands, which provide ample feeding and breeding opportunities.


This species is indigenous to the coastal and subcoastal areas of monsoonal northern Australia, with its range extending to parts of Wallacea and New Guinea.


The pied heron is a sociable bird, sometimes feeding in groups that can number up to a thousand individuals. It is also known to nest colonially with other heron species.

Song & Calls

In flight, the pied heron emits a loud 'awk' or 'ohrk'. Around the nest, a softer cooing can be heard. Beyond these vocalizations, much about their communication remains a mystery.


Breeding season for the pied heron occurs from February to May. They construct their nests as shallow platforms of sticks in trees above water, including in mangroves, and lay 1 to 2 blue-green eggs.

Diet and Feeding

The pied heron's diet consists primarily of insects, which are its most important food source. It also consumes frogs, crabs, fish, and other small aquatic creatures.

Conservation status

The pied heron is currently classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating a stable population without significant threats to its survival at this time.

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Pied Herons on Birda


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