Nankeen Night Heron – Profile | Traits | Facts | Diet | Breeding

Nankeen night heron

The Nankeen Night Heron, scientific name Nycticorax caledonicus, additionally generally known as the Rufous Night Heron, and in Melanesia as Melabaob, is a medium-sized heron.

Nankeen Night Heron Profile

The nankeen night heron (Nycticorax caledonicus) is a heron that belongs to the genus Nycticorax and the family Ardeidae. Due to its distinctive reddish-brown color, it is usually generally known as the rufous night heron.

Nankeen Night Heron is primarily nocturnal and is noticed in a broad range of habitats, together with forests, meadows, shores, reefs, marshes, grasslands, and swamps.

The species is 55 to 65 cm in size, with wealthy cinnamon upperparts and white underparts. The nankeen night heron has a stable population size and is classed as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Nankeen Night Heron Distribution and Habitat

Nankeen night herons have a broad distribution and are present in Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Java, New Caledonia, Palau, and the Caroline Islands, Federated States of Micronesia.

They are native to Australia and are widespread in most states of the nation aside from the west, through which it’s uncommon or absent.

Nankeen night herons have six subspecies, which incorporates the Bonin nankeen night heron (Nycticorax caledonicus crassirostris). This subspecies was endemic to Bonin Islands, Japan, however, has been extinct for the reason that late 1800s.

The nankeen night heron is resident in a large range of habitats, which incorporates grasslands, meadows, forests, lagoons, seashores, reefs, marshes, shores, wetlands, and swamps.

Nankeen Night Heron is mostly discovered close to rivers and streams. The species choose habitats with emergent vegetation when close to everlasting water.

The nankeen night heron is especially nocturnal, and thus roosts throughout the daytime in the dense cover of timber, bushes, and reeds. In more uncovered conditions, they’re additionally recognized to roost in lifeless timber.

In city areas, the nankeen night heron favors nesting and roosting in timber similar to cypresses and pines. They additionally reside in city wetlands, dry fields, gardens, ponds, airports, and parks.

Nankeen Night Heron, scientific name Nycticorax caledonicus, Rufous Night Heron

Nankeen Night Heron Description

The nankeen night heron is a medium-sized heron. The adult male is 55 to 65 cm in size, whereas the feminine is barely smaller, measuring 55 to 60 cm. Its weight varies from 810 g to 1014 g, and the wingspan ranges from 95 to 105 cm.

Other than females being smaller in most measurements, the sexes of the nankeen night heron are alike in look.

The nankeen night heron has a heavy black bill, which has similarities in size as its head. The face is white with a cinnamon tint, and the nape and crown of breeding adults are grey-black.

During the breeding season, there are additionally normally two or three skinny, white plumes from the crown in a downward course to the neck. These are tipped with black when newly grown.

The heron has a wealthy chestnut color throughout the upper parts, and the colors are more intense within the breeding season.

The underparts of the nankeen night heron are white, and there’s a gradual mix of the chestnut color and the white on its neck and higher breast. The back, tail, and higher wing of the bird are a wealthy rufous color.

The iris is of a straw yellow and will be tinged with orange throughout the breeding season, whereas the legs and feet are a creamy yellow. Their legs are comparatively shorter than that of different herons and may grow to be vivid pink throughout courtship and early breeding.

Juvenile nankeen night herons are fairly completely different in look in comparison with adults, with the top of their head and their nape being a black-brown color and streaked with beige.

The higher throat and chin are white, whereas the remainder of the neck is closely streaked with brown. The tail of juveniles is rufous-brown, the legs and feet are lime-green to olive-grey, and the bill is a boring olive-yellow color with black on the tip.

Nankeen night heron chicks are coated with darkish brown down feathers on their back and white on the undersides. They have cream-colored beaks with a darkish gray edge, and the legs are olive.

Nankeen Night Heron, scientific name Nycticorax caledonicus, Rufous Night Heron

Nankeen Night Heron Diet and feeding

The important diet of the nankeen night heron consists largely of aquatic creatures, together with freshwater invertebrates, crayfish, sea turtle hatchlings, crabs, and fish species like mosquito fish and carp.

Among these, crayfish seems to be the dominant prey. Its different prey includes frogs, lizards, mice, in addition to bugs similar to crickets, water beetles, ants, wasps, caterpillars, and dragonfly larvae.

Chicks of nankeen night herons start begging inside hours of hatching. They are initially given liquid meals and are supplied with semi-solid meals after a number of days. The younger are fed first from mouth to mouth, and later by adults regurgitating into the nest.

Nankeen night herons primarily forage at night and within the morning. Their typical foraging behavior contains strolling slowly, wanting into shallow water for prey.

However, they will additionally forage in deep water by plunging from perches. While primarily nocturnal, the species additionally feeds within the daytime throughout its breeding season to make sure meals availability for the younger.

Nankeen Night Heron, scientific name Nycticorax caledonicus, Rufous Night Heron

Nankeen Night Heron Behavior

The nankeen night heron is nearly totally nocturnal. They have a tendency to go away roosts shortly after sundown and are most energetic from nightfall to daybreak.

They are attentive basically, together with throughout roosting, however will be susceptible to predators when feeding. However, the species stay stable and widespread, and there are not any present conservation measures.

Adult nankeen night herons in Australia are noticed as partially migratory, transferring throughout winter and main occasions similar to flood and rainfall.

Populations that frequently migrate in accordance to seasonal shifts normally move north and may go so far as Papua New Guinea, however, some can even arrive in New Zealand, in addition to Pacific islands similar to Christmas Island, Lord Howe Island, and Cocos-Keeling Island. Other populations of the nankeen night heron are labeled as sedentary and hardly migrate in any respect.

When dealing with threats, male nankeen night herons will stand totally erect and make rasping sounds or snap their bill, signaling aggressive intentions.

As opponents get shut, agonistic behaviors of the male nankeen night heron contain pointing and snapping its bill and waving its wing, whereas crouching and obtrusive at its opponent. There are not any records of agonistic behavior in feminine nankeen night herons.

Nankeen Night Heron, scientific name Nycticorax caledonicus, Rufous Night Heron

Nankeen Night Heron Voice

Adult male nankeen night herons give a qu-arck sound when departing their roost at night, whereas females and juvenile nankeen night herons give a higher-pitched qu-ook sound.

When disturbed throughout roosting, the heron offers a short, deep quick. The nankeen night heron offers a hoarse, croaking quok when in flight, and a harsh croak sound whereas feeding in a bunch.

The risk call of the bird is a rok sound and is used when in aggregations. Nankeen night heron chicks are described to beg with a kak-kakkak call of their first two weeks, so as to receive the eye of their parents for feeding.

They additionally squawk as they dispute amongst themselves. After leaving their nest, throughout the interval when they’re nonetheless flightless, younger nankeen night herons utter a loud high-pitched screech when alarmed.

Nankeen Night Heron, scientific name Nycticorax caledonicus, Rufous Night Heron

Nankeen Night Heron Breeding

Breeding can happen year-round for the nankeen night heron, however, its major breeding season is October to May in Australia, February to June in Java, and February to May within the Philippines.

The timing of the species’ breeding can be largely depending on feeding circumstances, similar to meals availability. Nankeen night herons sometimes nest in dense timber, but additionally nest in marshes and swamps.

In areas without vegetation, the species can even construct nests in caves and under rock overhangs. They typically breed inside massive mixed-species colonies, which might embody ibises, cormorants, different heron species, and spoonbills.

Nests of nankeen night herons are loosely constructed with sticks. These are sometimes 20-30 cm in diameter and 3-4 cm in height, which is simply massive sufficient to carry the clutch.

Nests that can be constructed on the ground will be merely a hoop of sticks that stops the eggs from rolling away. The sticks are collected by the male birds, whereas the females prepare them within the nest. The building of nests could happen each throughout the daytime and at night.
Nankeen Night Heron, scientific name Nycticorax caledonicus, Rufous Night Heron
The color of the species’ eggs is a pale green-blue, and the clutch ranges from two to 5. The mean dimensions of the eggs are 51.50 mm in size and 37.20 mm in width.

Incubation sometimes lasts 21 days, and each parent assists incubate and take care of the younger. Nankeen night heron hatchlings are altricial and fledge around six to seven weeks after birth.

The chicks are aggressive to all adults, together with parents, that method the nest. They could go away from the nest after around two weeks, and return to be fed. They are fed away from the nest by the third week of hatching.


The nankeen night heron has not been evaluated as susceptible by the IUCN Red List because it doesn’t meet any of the factors.

The species is assessed as stable, because it has a fluctuating however not declining population pattern, a really massive population size, and an especially massive range, with an estimated extent of occurrence of 31,600,000 km2.

The IUCN Red List states that for these causes, the nankeen night heron is evaluated as a species of least concern.

Nankeen Night Heron, scientific name Nycticorax caledonicus, Rufous Night Heron

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