Rufous night-heron (Nankeen night-heron) and great and intermediate egrets are now completing their breeding in Barmah Forest.
This breeding event was highly significant in that it represented one of the few known nesting events of night-herons in Victoria, and the only great egret and intermediate egret nesting site in Victoria this year.
Recent counts found over 4200 nests in a 20ha area (that is why they are called “colonial nesting” species).
Many had already completed nesting and departed at the time of survey, but of the remaining active nests, 1650 were night-herons, 73 were great egret, 8 were intermediate egret and 2 were yellow-billed spoonbill nests.
This is a very significant event that is a reuslt of the large natural flood event in spring.
Some environmental water was used to maintain some shallow flooding near the nesting site (as would have occurred under natural conditions) to provide for suitable feeding areas for young and adult birds while achieving other targets of benefitting vegetation, frogs and fish.
Did you know?
Egrets were nearly shot out of existence in the early 1900s for their plumes (breeding feathers). Although they are a familiar and obvious bird seen in many locations (such as around farm dams and urban lakes), their numbers are of conservation concern because of their restricted breeding locations and suitable flood years.
The night-herons, and their name suggests, are a heron that usually feeds in wetlands during the night, taking frogs, small fish and large water bugs in the shallows.