T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Heron (Nankeen night heron) Nycticorax caledonicus

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Nycticorax
Species: N. caledonicus
Binomial name: Nycticorax caledonicus
Synonyms: Ardea caledonica
Common name: Nankeen night heron, Rufous night heron

Nycticorax caledonicus is a rare native. It is a medium-sized heron 56 cm long and can be recognised by it chestnut coloured back and a white underbelly. It perches in trees during the day.
It is also found in Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, and throughout much of Australia except the arid inland. A small colony is established near Whanganui, New Zealand where it frequents tidal estuaries, mangrove swamps and the Whanganui River. They have been reported at Pipiriki 80 kilometres upriver from Whanganui.
The nankeen night heron stands about 60 cm tall with a stooped appearance. It is not strictly nocturnal. It often feeds during the day, especially during wet weather. The bird is dependent on a diet of small fish, mud crabs, reptiles, insects and sometimes eggs. It can be seen around freshwater rivers, lakes, bulrushes, estuaries, harbours and in residential fishponds for goldfish.
The species breeds in the period from September to April, building a nest platform out of sticks. It nests communally, near water. Two to five light green eggs are laid, with a 22-day incubation followed by a 42– 49 day fledging period.


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