Matuku moana/White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)
The White-faced heron is the most common species of heron and is found throughout the country. They are a relatively new species to Aotearoa New Zealand, being self-introduced from Australia in the late 1940's. With the abundance of food and very little competition from similar species, population expansion was rapid.
These elegant birds are solitary when foraging for food as they walk slowly in shallow water waiting for any sign of movement. Once detected, prey is seized with a rapid lunge of the beak. Food consists of fish and crabs in shallow water but frogs, lizards and worms are also eaten when found.
A bulky mass of sticks and twigs usually constitute a nest and are generally built in the crowns of trees, usually Macrocarpa.. Clutch size varies from three to five eggs but usually only two or three chicks survive.
They nest annually in the Foxton Beach area and young can be seen around the Estuary from late spring onwards.