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Great-billed Heron - Jun Matsui
Photo: Jun Matsui

Great-billed Heron

Ardea Sumatrans

Size: 100-110cm.

Australia’s largest heron with a massive bill. Dark grey/brown with a paler throat and grey legs. Breeding plumage silvery on the foreneck, crest and back. Immature is browner and with no crest.

A shy, elusive bird, found in mangroves, tidal mudflats and lowland rivers of tropical Australia. Feeds at low tide by stalking in the shallows.

Low and heavy in flight with slow wing beats, neck folded in and with long trailing legs.

Call: loud, slow, ‘croaking’ and a deep rumbling ‘roar’.

Breeds: In solitary pairs spaced about 1 km apart, principally in spring and autumn. Nest deep in the mangroves in a fork, building a stick platform lined by finer twigs and leaves. Lays two eggs.

The Great-billed Heron can be found most of the year on the Daintree River, Barratt Creek or the Mossman River.


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