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The Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) commonly abbreviated 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 replaced by the closely related Rufous Night Heron, with which it has hybridized in the area of contact).


Adults are approximately 64 cm long and weigh 800 g. They have a black crown and back with the remainder of the body white or grey, red eyes, and short yellow legs. Young birds are brown, flecked with white and grey. These are short-necked and stout herons.


The breeding habitat is fresh and salt-water wetlands throughout much of the world. The subspecies N. n. hoactli breeds in North and South America from Canadamarker as far south as northern Argentinamarker and Chilemarker, N. n. obscurus in southernmost South America, N. n. falklandicus in the Falkland Islandsmarker, and the nominate race N. n. nycticorax in Europe, Asia and Africa. Black-crowned Night Herons nest in colonies on platforms of sticks in a group of trees, or on the ground in protected locations such as islands or reedbeds. Three to eight egg are laid.

This heron is migratory in the northernmost part of its range, but otherwise resident (even in the cold Patagonia). The North American population winters in Mexicomarker, the southern United Statesmarker, Central America, and the West Indiesmarker, and the Old World birds winter in tropical Africa and southern Asia.


These birds stand still at the water's edge and wait to ambush prey, mainly at night. They primarily eat small fish, crustaceans, frogs, aquatic insects, small mammal and small birds. During the day they rest in trees or bushes. N. n. hoactli is more gregarious outside the breeding season than the nominate race.


The scientific name, Nycticorax, means "night raven", and refers to this species' nocturnal habits and harsh crow-like call.

In the Falkland Islandsmarker, they are known as "quarks", which is an onomatopoeic term.


  • Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern.
  • Black-crowned Night Heron on Animal Diversity Web
  • A guide to the birds of Costa Rica by Stiles and Skutch ISBN 0-8014-9600-4
  • Herons and Egrets of the World by James Hancock ISBN 0-12-322725-9
  • The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley ISBN 0-679-45122-6

External links


Image:Bihoreau_Gris_2.jpg|In Saint-Eustache, Quebecmarker, Canadamarker.Image:Bihoreau_Gris_3.jpg|In Saint-Eustache, Quebec, Canada.Image:Bihoreau_Gris_4.jpg|In Saint-Eustache, Quebec, Canada.Image:BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON IMMATURE.jpg|Immature in Mangroves of Ding Darling NWR.Image:Black-crowned Night Heron (Imm.) I IMG 7370.jpg|Immature in flight, Kolkata, West Bengal, India.Image:Black-crowned Night Heron I IMG 0334.jpg|Immature acquiring adult plumage, Kolkata, West Bengal, India.Image:Young night heron.jpg|Close-up of juvenile, Lake Merrittmarker, Oakland, Californiamarker, USAmarker.Image:Blackcrownednightheron.jpg|In Portland, Maine, USA, harbor.

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