Australian Bush Birds
Nankeen Night Heron  -  Nycticorax caledonicus
Nankeen Night Heron
Adult Nankeen Night Heron in breeding plumage resting with one leg drawn up. The head is hunched down onto the shoulders in this daytime roosting pose.
Nankeen Night Heron Adult with black cap and rufous plumage.(Port Fairy, Vic)
map map The Nankeen Night Heron - Nycticorax caledonicus - is coloured cinnamon-rufous on the back and sides merging into tints of cinnamon at the sides and blending into a white breast and underparts. Crown and bill are black; pale green skin between eye and beak. Legs are thick and pale green; tail is short. Breeding adults have long white plumes from the back of the neck. Males and females are coloured the same; males are slightly larger (55 to 65 centimetres).

Nankeen Night Heron - page 2
Juveniles are streaked white and pale brown to give a mottled appearance. The head is streaked on juvenile birds turning black on immature ones.

Flies with neck folded back; translucent flight feathers become bright rufous in sunlight.

The Night Heron feeds at night; roosts by day in trees close to water also under jetties and wharves. While roosting the head is hunched down onto the shoulders but is extended when hunting. Found solitary or in groups; often large numbers roost together.

Lives in wetlands, billabongs, flooded grasslands as well as in estuarine environments such as mangroves and tidal channels. Prefers sites with tall vegetation for cover and dense trees nearby for roosting.

Common in the south-east and south-west; scarce in the interior.

Nankeen Night Heron Nankeen Night Heron
Left. Juvenile Nankeen Night Heron with mottled plumage. Right. Immature Nankeen Night Heron with black cap and plumage transforming into adult version.
Nankeen Night Heron Nankeen Night Heron
Left. Juvenile head. Right. Adult head (Port Fairy, Vic)

 ¶  Genus Nycticorax is in Family Ardeidae with Herons, Egrets and Bitterns.