Nycticorax nycticorax , Photo: Michael Lahanas
Nycticorax nycticorax (Linnaeus, 1758)
Nycticorax nycticorax (*)
Systema Naturae ed.10 p.142
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).
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 Canada as far south as northern Argentina and Chile, N. n. obscurus in southernmost South America, N. n. falklandicus in the Falkland Islands, 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 eggs 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 Mexico, the southern United States, Central America, and the West Indies, 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 Islands, they are known as "quarks", which is an onomatopoeic term.
* BirdLife International (2008). Nycticorax nycticorax. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 4 February 2009. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern.
Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License