The White Necked Heron or Pacific Heron is found around dams and waterways in most of the areas where I have travelled. They are certainly common around Wedderburn, Vic on various dams in the bush and at Skinners Flat Reservoir. They are an extremely graceful bird both on the ground and in flight.
The white-necked heron or Pacific heron (Ardea pacifica) is a species of heron that is found on most of the Australian continent wherever freshwater habitats exist. It is also found in parts of Indonesia, New Guinea and New Zealand, but is uncommon in Tasmania. The populations of this species in Australia are known to be nomadic like most water birds in Australia, moving from one water source to another often entering habitats they have not previously occupied, taking advantage of flooding and heavy rain where the surplus of food allows them to breed and raise their young. Population explosions have been known when the environmental conditions are right for this species in places where they have been rare or unknown.
Large water dwelling bird, diurnal animal. Slate-grey to black with distinctive black spots in the centre of the lower fore-neck and throat. During breeding season plum coloured nuptial plumes are present on the back and breast. Flight: stately, slow steady wing beats. Body size/length 76–106 cm, Wingspan 147–160 cm, Weight 860g. I have studied the bird, with many photos, estimate wingspan near 2m
The bill is black and the facial skin is commonly blue or yellow. In this species of heron the eyes are green and the legs and feet also being black. Elongated neck and beak designed to reach out and catch fish, frogs, spiders and any other food source available in its habitat. Most of the head and neck is white with the black spots on the neck only visible in non-breeding individuals.
In the downy young, down is longer especially on the crown of the head with the neck and head being white and the upper wing and upperparts being a light grey brown. When juvenile feathers appear they are a dark grey. In Juveniles a broad strip of grey black runs down the front of the neck. Head and neck are commonly a brownish-grey tinge. The adult feathers emerge after wear replaces the juvenile feathers.