Overview

Comprehensive Description

A large heron with a white head and a long white neck with a double line of black spots running down the front. The upperparts of the body are slate-black, with plum-coloured nuptial plumes on the back and breast during the breeding season. Underparts are grey streaked with white. The bill is black, the naked facial skin is is blue or yellow, the eyes are green, and the legs and feet are black. The White-necked Heron is sometimes known as the Pacific Heron. A loud croak is uttered as an alarm call. Other gutteral calls are uttered at the nest.

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© New Guinea Birds

Source: Birds of Papua New Guinea

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Distribution

Range

Wetlands of Australia and Tasmania; straggler to s New Guinea.

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Distribution:


    Australia and Tasmania; scarce, but probably regular, in S New Guinea.


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Source: Birds of Papua New Guinea

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Physical Description

Size

76-106 cm, 900 g

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Source: Birds of Papua New Guinea

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Diagnostic Description

A large heron with a white head and a long white neck with a double line of black spots running down the front. The upperparts of the body are slate-black, with plum-coloured nuptial plumes on the back and breast during the breeding season. Underparts are grey streaked with white. The bill is black, the naked facial skin is is blue or yellow, the eyes are green, and the legs and feet are black. The White-necked Heron is sometimes known as the Pacific Heron. A loud croak is uttered as an alarm call. Other gutteral calls are uttered at the nest.

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© New Guinea Birds

Source: Birds of Papua New Guinea

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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Source: IUCN

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Although White-necked Herons are sometimes seen in tidal areas, most are found in shallow fresh waters, including farm dams, flooded pastures, claypans, and even roadside ditches.

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Source: Birds of Papua New Guinea

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Trophic Strategy

Feed by wading in shallow water or stalking through wet grass looking for fish, amphibians, crustaceans and insects.

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Source: Birds of Papua New Guinea

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

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Reproduction

White-necked Herons will breed in any month of the year in response to good rain, but most breeding occurs between September and December. The nest is a loose platform in a living tree such as a river red gum near or over water. The nests may be solitary or in loose colonies. Eggs are incubated by both parents. Breeding season: Mainly September to December. Clutch size: Up to six, usually three or four. Incubation: 30 days Time in nest: 45 days

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ardea pacifica

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be fluctuating, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Not Threatened.

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Population

Population Trend
Stable
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Source: IUCN

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Wikipedia

White-necked Heron

The white-necked heron (Ardea pacifica), also known as the Pacific heron, is found throughout New Guinea and Australia, except for the most arid regions, and is a vagrant to New Zealand.

It is a large, robust looking heron, with dark, slaty wings and body, and a mostly white head and neck. Its habitat mainly comprises freshwater wetlands and wet grasslands. It feeds on fish, frogs, insects and reptiles. It nests in dead or living trees associated with freshwater wetlands.

Widespread throughout its large range, the white-necked heron is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.[2]

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References[edit]

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