Chordates •

Black-crowned night-heron

(Nycticorax nycticorax)


Nycticorax nycticorax, commonly known as the Black-crowned Night Heron, is a wading bird found throughout much of the world. It belongs to the family Ardeidae, which includes other wading birds such as egrets, bitterns, and other herons. Physical Description The Black-crowned Night Heron is a medium-sized bird, measuring around 60 cm (24 inches) in length, with a wingspan of up to 110 cm (43 inches). It has a stocky build, with a short neck and legs. The adults have a distinctive black crown and back, with a grayish-white underbelly. The eyes are red, and the bill is long and black. Juveniles have brownish-gray plumage and lack the black crown. Both males and females have similar plumage. Habitat and Distribution The Black-crowned Night Heron is found in a variety of wetland habitats, including freshwater and saltwater marshes, swamps, lakes, rivers, and even urban areas such as parks and gardens. It is distributed widely throughout much of the world, with breeding populations in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australasia. Behavior and Diet The Black-crowned Night Heron is primarily nocturnal and crepuscular, meaning that it is most active at dawn and dusk. During the day, it usually roosts in trees or shrubs near water. It is a solitary bird, although it may form loose colonies during the breeding season. The diet of the Black-crowned Night Heron consists mainly of fish, but it also feeds on other aquatic animals such as crabs, crayfish, frogs, and insects. It is known to be a patient and skilled hunter, waiting motionless for prey to come within striking distance before quickly lunging with its bill. Breeding The breeding season of the Black-crowned Night Heron varies depending on location, but it typically occurs between March and July. During this time, the birds form pairs and build a nest in trees or shrubs near water. The nest is constructed from sticks and lined with finer materials such as grass and leaves. The female lays 3-5 eggs, which are incubated by both parents for around 25-27 days. The young hatch out covered in grayish down and are fed regurgitated food by both parents. They fledge at around 6-7 weeks of age. Conservation Status The Black-crowned Night Heron is considered to be of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, populations in some areas have been impacted by habitat loss and degradation, pollution, and hunting. In some regions, the bird has been subject to persecution due to its perceived threat to fish stocks. Conclusion The Black-crowned Night Heron is a fascinating and adaptable wading bird that is found throughout much of the world. With its distinctive black crown and nocturnal behavior, it is a popular species among birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. While it is currently of least concern, continued conservation efforts are needed to ensure that this remarkable bird remains a part of our natural world for generations to come.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Aves
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