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Black-crowned Night Heron | Birds And Me

Black-crowned Night Heron


Black-crowned Night Heron

Scientific Name:  Nycticorax nycticorax

Black-crowned Night Heron image

Black-crowned Night Heron  Photo by:  Sharvari Daithankar

Bird Type:  Waders    990  Views


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 grey, red eyes, and short yellow legs. They have pale grey wings and white under parts. 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.
Immature birds have dull grey-brown plumage on their heads, wings, and backs, with numerous pale spots. Their underparts are paler and streaked with brown. The young birds have orange eyes and duller yellowish-green legs. They are very noisy birds in their nesting colonies, with calls that are commonly transcribed as quok or woc.


  • 58-65 cm

  • 23-26 Inch

  • black

  • gray  (Bird may have more colors)
  •    নিশি বক
  •    तार बकुला
  •    અવાક, વાક
  •    ಇರುಳು ಬಕ, ನಿಶೆ ಬಕ, ರಾತ್ರಿ ಬಕ
  •    പാതിരാക്കൊക്ക്
  •    रातबगळा, रात्रिंचर ढोकरी
  •    இராக்கொக்கு, கருந்தொப்பி இராக்கொக்கு

Black-crowned Night Heron frequents varied types of wet areas with fresh, brackish or salt water with aquatic vegetation, also the forested shores of shallow streams, lagoons, pools, ponds, lakes, marshes and mangroves.
It also frequents developed areas such as pastures, rice fields, canals…
While migrating, this species occurs along marine coasts and dry lands.


Black-crowned Night Heron feeds on numerous items, from aquatic preys such as fish, amphibians (frogs and tadpoles), reptiles (turtles, snakes, lizards), insects (adults and larvae), spiders, crustaceans and molluscs, to small rodents, bats, eggs and chicks of other birds’ species. It feeds mainly at dawn and dusk, and by night or day.


Black-crowned Night Heron is usually silent outside the breeding season. But it may gives sometimes low, hollow frog-like quark, or sudden guk in flight or at roost.


The black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), or black-capped night heron, 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).

Black-crowned Night Heron is a stocky heron with large head, short and thick neck and short legs.

On the upperparts, adult male has black head and mantel. Wings and tail are pale grey. Underparts are whitish.
On the black head, we can see two or three elongated white feathers on the nape. Chin, forehead, cheeks and neck sides are white.  
The long, straight bill is blackish. Eyes are deep red with dark blue-black lores. Legs and feet are greenish-yellow.
In breeding plumage, legs become red.
In non breeding plumage, crown and back are duller and long nape feathers are absent.

Female has similar plumage with shorter nape feathers. She has paler plumage and she is smaller than male.

Juvenile is heavily spotted and streaked white, grey, brown and buff. Eyes are yellow. Bill is paler, with dark grey upper mandible and yellowish lower mandible.

The 2nd- winter is fairly dull with unmarked greyish-brown upperparts, and pale or partly streaked underparts. Crown is blackish.


    Resident (inc. local and altitudinal migrants)
    Former range (no recent records but may still survive)
    Summer visitor (including summer monsoon)
    Winter visitor
    Passage (autumn and/or spring) visitor
    known to be occasional, scarce or erratic
    Small isolated population (actual range smaller)  
    Isolated record(s) - one or more in the same area  
 colour coded for seasonality as per coloured ranges, black denotes unspecified season