White-faced Heron neck-shaking

To: bird <>
Subject: White-faced Heron neck-shaking
From: Syd Curtis <>
Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2001 11:25:29 +1000
One doesn't see many herons in sub-tropical rainforest ... and don't worry,
I haven't now.  I mention it only by way of re-introducing my ignorance on
matters heronic, or more generally with respect to most birds away from Qld

This morning, to my considerable delight, a White-face Heron visited the
back yard of the units next-door.  I had an excellent view of it from our
kitchen window.  It was perched on the fence initially, then flew down to
the lawn and indulged in behaviour that raised my curiosity.

It appeared to be staring at the ground, presumably looking for some edible
invertebrate, but while keeping head and body motionless, it moved its neck
rapidly from side to side.   A very impressive performance, I thought.

Initially it was standing erect.  It moved forward a few steps and repeated
the neck-shaking; moved forward again and repeated, and then leant forward,
again with neck-shaking.  It stabbed at the ground, but whether it caught
anything I do not know.  At that stage, something alarmed it and it

I assume that is normal W-f Heron behaviour?  Any theory as to why?  Is the
neck-shaking intended to flush the food, while holding the head motionless
ensures that any movement will be noticed?

Syd Curtis in Brisbane 
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