Nankeen (Rufous) Night Heron

Nycticorax caledonicus

Nankeen Night Herons got their name from a buff-coloured cotton cloth from Nanking, China. The juvenile birds, however, are striped. Although these birds are mainly nocturnal feeders in late spring and early summer, when the frogs are breeding, they can often be seen foraging during the day. They patiently wait for prey to move within range, or wade very slowly in shallow water. Frogs and tadpoles appear to be a favourite food but they will also take juvenile turtles.
The Night Herons are not present when our lake is dry. However, they can always be observed at Herdsman Lake and, on some evenings, on the Claremont jetty or along the river foreshore. Although one of our larger bird, they can be difficult to see in the reed beds.
They roost in trees with heavy foliage.

  • Length: 55-65cm
  • Clutch Size: 2-3

Drawings kindly provided by Pam. Photography and text by David Free. Audio clips provided by David Secomb.