The Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), commonly shortened to just Night Heron in Eurasia, is a medium-sized heron found throughout a large part of the world, except in the coldest regions and Australasia (where it is replaced by the closely related Rufous Night-heron, with which it has hybridized in the area of contact).
Adults are approximately 64 cm (25 in) long and weigh 800 g (28 oz). They have a black crown and back with the remainder of the body white or gray, red eyes, and short yellow legs. They have pale gray wings and white underparts. Two or three long white plumes, erected in greeting and courtship displays, extend from the back of the head. The sexes are similar in appearance although the males are slightly larger. Black-crowned Night Herons do not fit the typical body form of the heron family. They are relatively stocky with shorter bills, legs, and necks than their more familiar cousins, the egrets and “day” herons. Their resting posture is normally somewhat hunched but when hunting they extend their necks and look more like other wading birds. [Wikipedia]
Black-crowned Night-Herons are stocky birds compared to many of their long-limbed heron relatives. They’re most active at night or at dusk, when you may see their ghostly forms flapping out from daytime roosts to forage in wetlands. In the light of day, adults are striking in gray-and-black plumage and long white head plumes. These social birds breed in colonies of stick nests usually built over water. They live in fresh, salt, and brackish wetlands and are the most widespread heron in the world. [All About Birds]
Black-crowned Night Heron Facts [All About Birds]
- Scientists find it easy, if a bit smelly and messy, to study the diet of young Black-crowned Night-Herons—the nestlings often disgorge their stomach contents when approached.
- A breeding Black-crowned Night-Heron will brood any chick that is placed in its nest. The herons apparently don’t distinguish between their own offspring and nestlings from other parents.
- Black-crowned Night Heron nest in groups that often include other species, including herons, egrets, and ibises.
- The oldest Black-crowned Night-Heron on record was a female who was at least 21 years, 5 months old.