Pelican, Herons, Ibis & Spoonbills

Families Pelecanidae, Ardeidae & Threskiornithidae

Eastern Great Egret Ardea modesta

White-necked Heron Ardea Pacifica

Cattle Egret Ardea ibis

The Australian Pelican is the only member of the Pelecanidae in Australia. They are generally observed swimming in groups in areas of deeper water searching for fish.

Herons and egrets are members of the Family Ardeidae, and are long-legged waders, stalking their prey in the shallows, or for some species like the Cattle Egret, seeking insects and small invertebrates in long grass. The White-faced Heron is the only member of this family regularly recorded in the Garden Bird Survey, but there are occasional sightings of other members, including: White-necked Heron (24 records), Eastern Great Egret (22), Intermediate Egret (3), Cattle Egret (15), Little Egret (1) and Nankeen Night Heron (3)

Ibises and spoonbills are members of the Family Threskiornithidae. Large flocks of Australian White-Ibises and Straw-necked Ibises are sometimes observed probing for food on some of the large playing fields dotted around Canberra, particularly after wet weather, of after the fields have been irrigated.

The Glossy Ibis is a rare visitor, although in some years they can be seen in spring at the Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve. Only one has been recorded from the Garden Bird Survey.

The Yellow-billed Spoonbill (5 records) and the Royal Spoonbill (7) are rarely seen away from the shallows of freshwater bodies, where they feed, using their bills in a unique sweeping motion to catch fish, small crustaceans and other aquatic invertebrates.


Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia

Yellow-billed Spoonbill Platalea flavipes