Adults have a blue-grey back and wings, white underparts, a black cap and short yellow legs. Juveniles are browner above and streaked below.
These birds stand still at the water's edge and wait to ambush prey, but are easier to see than many small heron species. They mainly eat small fish, frogs and aquatic insects. They sometimes use bait, dropping a feather or leaf carefully on the water surface and picking fish that come to investigate