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Black-crowned Night-Heron | Nycticorax nycticorax

The Black-crowned Night-Heron is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Ardeidae bird family group which includes birds such as Egrets, Herons, Bitterns.

The description for the Black-crowned Night-Heron (Latin name Nycticorax nycticorax) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Nycticorax nycticorax can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 76 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 597. You will find a picture of the Black-crowned Night-Heron on page 577.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

This bird is known as Black-crowned Night Heron in the Roberts 6th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Black-crowned Night-Heron between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition

The Black-crowned Night-Heron is known in Afrikaans as Gewone Nagreier.

The Black-crowned Night-Heron has a height of 56 cms and weighs around 680 gms. The head is coloured black, white while the bill is coloured yellow. The Nycticorax nycticorax has a white coloured throat, yellow legs and a brown, black coloured back. The eyes are orange.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is black, white

Eyes are orange

Bill is yellow

Legs are yellow

Throat is white

Back is brown, black

Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground

This birds forages for fish and other aquatic dwellers through surface sizing and diving for food in the water.

This bird has a specially adapted bill which helps it hunt for fish, crabs, shrimp and other aquatic animals in the water.

This bird is a noctunal feeder and is able to forage in the dark because of the enhanced night vision. It also forages at this time because that?s when the prey comes out in the open.

The Nycticorax nycticorax attacks smaller birds in flight and uses its sharp claws to break the bird's neck. Some of the birds are attacked in their nests while others are killed on the ground. The Black-crowned Night-Heron eats the eggs of its victim.

The diet includes small mammals such as rabbits, field mice and other rodents. Rodents are usually taken from the ground and killed using the sharp claws. The Black-crowned Night-Heron uses its hard bill to tear up the flesh.

This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten .

Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Black-crowned Night-Heron is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 2 to 4 eggs and they are coloured blue, green.

The nest is built high up in the tree canopy and is protected from predators by branches and the dense green foligae.

The bird builds its nest above water as a means of protecting itself from predators and to be close to its main food source which includes fish, shrimp and frogs.

The Black-crowned Night-Heron is found in the Southern African wetlands, riverine forests and moist grasslands.

The bird is at home in riverine forests and close to water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Black-crowned Night-Heron is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.

It is also seen in flocks

The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition * edited by PAR Hockey, WRJ Dean and PG Ryan, published by "The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund."

copyright: Tony Roocroft +27-11-454-0105

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