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5

Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron

(Nycticorax caledonicus)
Alternate name(s): "Night Heron"; misnomer: "Nankeen Crane"
Aboriginal name(s): Race "hilli": "dharrun" [yuwaalaraay], "yirrin" [yuwaalaraay]; "ngalgan", "ngalganing" (WA); "oroo"

Size: 55-65 cm

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "hilli"

ADULT

BREEDING

Close-up frontal view of an adult Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron in breeding plumage (photo courtesy of I. Duncan)
[Glen Iris wetlands, Melbourne, VIC, February 2013]

Frontal view of an adult Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron in breeding plumage on its roost (photo courtesy of J. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2014]

Frontal view of an adult Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron in breeding plumage on its roost, now with its head turned (photo courtesy of J. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2014]

Lateral view of an adult Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron in breeding plumage(photo courtesy of I. Duncan)
[Glen Iris wetlands, Melbourne, VIC, February 2013]

Lateral view of an adult Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron in breeding plumage, now in bright sunlight (photo courtesy of I. Duncan)
[Glen Iris wetlands, Melbourne, VIC, February 2013]

The same Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron as above, now with its bill partly open (photo courtesy of I. Duncan)
[Glen Iris wetlands, Melbourne, VIC, February 2013]

Near-dorsal view of a Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron in breeding plumage hiding in dark underbrush (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Herdsman Lake, Perth, WA, December 2014]

Lateral view of an adult Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron in flight
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2012]

Near-dorsal view of an adult Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron in flight
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2012]

NON-BREEDING

Close-up frontal portrait of an adult Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron in non-breeding plumage (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Anstead Reserve, Anstead, QLD, June 2017]

Close-up lateral view of an adult Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron in non-breeding plumage (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Anstead Reserve, Anstead, QLD, June 2017]

Adult Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron in non-breeding plumage in flight displaying its upperwing pattern
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2013]

Adult Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron in non-breeding plumage in flight displaying its underwing pattern
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2013]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of an immature Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron on a low perch
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, October 2011]

Now the Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron has seen something in the water under its perch
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, October 2011]

Lateral view of a Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron
[Near Walgett, NSW, June 2012]

Lateral view of an immature Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron high up in a tree...
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, October 2011]

Immature Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron having a good look at the nosy photographer
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, October 2011]

Immature Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron in flight
[Narrabri Lake, Narrabri, NSW, March 2017]

Dorsal view of an immature Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron in flight
[Near Moree, NSW, April 2012]

Upon landing this immature Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron displays its wing pattern
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, October 2011]

Near-frontal view of a juvenile Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Young Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron that does not have flight yet, waiting to be fed by its parents
[Macquarie Marshes NR, NSW, April 2011]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Sedentary/dispersive Elementary unit: Pair/family

Although predominantly nocturnal, Rufous (Nankeen) Night Herons have been observed by us regularly when active during the day (and not flushed by us). We have seen them hunting in the morning, near midday and early afternoon. In major wetlands they can be seen in their thousands in a small area.

Part of a larger population of Rufous (Nankeen) Night Herons in a swamp at Yarrie Lake, 30 km west of Narrabri, NSW
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, August 2012]

At Macquarie Marshes NR we observed a bird walking to and fro on a major, almost horizontal branch, checking for prey underneath from various vantage points (photo below).

Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron using an horizontal branch to check for prey from various vantage points
[Macquarie Marshes NR, NSW, April 2011]

Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron demanding to be fed by humans (photo courtesy of T. Rodoni)
[South Yunderup, WA, December 2013]

Food, Diet

The fact that this Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron is being pursued by a White-breasted Woodswallow during their breeding season indicates that Night Herons may take other birds' nestlings
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2012]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

rufhern_20140820_2.mp3 hilli
(Darwin, NT)
Warning call? © MD
rufhern_20140820.mp3 hilli
(Darwin, NT)
? © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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