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5

Eastern Reef Egret

(Egretta [Ardea] sacra)
Alternate name(s): "Pacific Reef Heron", "Sacred Heron"
Size: 60-70 cm; wing span 90-100 cm
Weight: 330-470 g

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Eastern Reef Egret (Pacific Reef Heron) at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "sacra"

White morphology

ADULT

Sex unknown

Frontal view of a white morphology Eastern Reef Egret about to strike its prey (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[East Point, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Near-lateral view of a white morphology Eastern Reef Egret (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Cullen Bay, Darwin, NT, October 2017]

Lateral view of an Eastern Reef Egret (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Lady Elliot Island, near Agnes Water, QLD, January 2016]

Near-dorsal view of an Eastern Reef Egret sitting on a rock (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Darwin, NT, March 2013]

Stand-off between an Eastern Reef Egret and a Little Pied Cormorant; note the raised hackles/wings
(photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Nightcliff, Darwin, NT, March 2013]

Lateral view of an Eastern Reef Egret in flight (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lee Point, Darwin, NT, July 2014]

Close-up lateral view of a white morphology Eastern Reef Egret in flight (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[East Point, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Direct comparison of the two morphologies of Eastern Reef Egrets (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Lady Elliot Island, near Agnes Water, QLD, January 2016]

Direct comparison of the two morphologies of Eastern Reef Egrets in flight (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lee Point, Darwin, NT, July 2014]

Grey morphology

ADULT

Sex unknown

Frontal view of a grey morphology Eastern Reef Egret (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Darwin, NT, July 2018]

Frontal view of a grey morphology Eastern Reef Egret ready to strike from a rock
(photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Maroubra, Sydney, NSW, May 2013]

Close-up near-lateral view of an Eastern Reef Egret (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Cairns, QLD, July 2018]

Near-lateral view of an Eastern Reef Egret (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Lady Elliot Island, near Agnes Water, QLD, January 2016]

Near-lateral view of an Eastern Reef Egret (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Caloundra, QLD, August 2017]

Lateral view of an Eastern Reef Egret on a rocky beach (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Lady Elliot Island, near Agnes Water, QLD, January 2016]

Lateral view of an Eastern Reef Egret standing in the surf on a beach (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Darwin, NT, March 2013]

Lateral view of an Eastern Reef Egret stalking prey on a rock shelf (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Darwin, NT, March 2013]

Lateral view of an Eastern Reef Egret (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Cullen Bay, Darwin, NT, October 2017]

Lateral view of an Eastern Reef Egret using a rock as a vantage point (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Roebuck Bay, WA, April 2015]

Lateral view of an Eastern Reef Egret (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Lady Elliot Island, near Agnes Water, QLD, January 2016]

Close-up lateral view of an Eastern Reef Egret (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, October 2017]

Lateral view of an Eastern Reef Egret on a beach (photo courtesy of R. Russell)
[Near Mossman, QLD, November 2017]

Near-dorsal view of an Eastern Reef Egret (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, October 2017]

Near-dorsal view of an Eastern Reef Egret (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Cullen Bay, Darwin, NT, October 2017]

Dorsal view of an Eastern Reef Egret (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Lady Elliot Island, near Agnes Water, QLD, January 2016]

Distant views of an Eastern Reef Egret in flight
[Darwin, NT, August 2014]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Sep - Feb Eggs: 2 - 4 Incubation period: 25 - 28 days Fledging age: 35 - 42 days

Given the right conditions, Eastern Reef Egret can breed basically throughout the year in the northern, tropical parts of the continent. In the tropical North they are also known to be colonial nesters, whereas in the South of the continent pairs will nest separately.

Nest building: ? Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Sticks, seaweed Height above ground: 0 - 5(?) m

Eastern Reef Egret nests can be on the ground, in trees, mangrove or on/in rock ledges/niches.

View from above onto an Eastern Reef Egret nest on a rock ledge (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[East Point, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Eastern Reef Egret on its nest in a rock niche (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[East Point, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Eastern Reef Egret on its nest under overhanging rocks (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[East Point, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Eastern Reef Egret on its nest on a rock ledge (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[East Point, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Eastern Reef Egret nest with two chicks in it (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[East Point, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Closer view of two Eastern Reef Egret chicks in their nest (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[East Point, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Eastern Reef Egret nest in a tree on a coral atoll (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Lady Elliot Island, near Agnes Water, QLD, January 2016]

Eastern Reef Egret guarding its nest (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Lady Elliot Island, near Agnes Water, QLD, January 2016]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 46 x 35 mm Colour: Light-blue Shape: Tapered oval

View from above into a well-protected Eastern Reef Egret nest with two eggs in it (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[East Point, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Behaviour

Eastern Reef Egrets can hunt while wading in shallow water, from rocks in shallow water or from the beach front.

Lateral view of an Eastern Reef Egret posturing to impress the competition (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Cullen Bay, Darwin, NT, October 2017]

Grey morphology Eastern Reef Egret displaying to its partner... (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[East Point, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

... to receive some TLC (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[East Point, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Food, Diet

Close-up lateral view of a grey morphology Eastern Reef Egret that has spotted a worm (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[East Point, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Grey morphology Eastern Reef Egret with its prey, a worm; the ensuing fight lasted for several minutes, but the end result was never in doubt... (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[East Point, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Eastern Reef Egret with its prey, a fish (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[East Point, Darwin, NT, January 2019]

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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