NANKEEN NIGHT HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus)

The first time I saw a Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus) on the bank of the Ornamental Lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, I nearly passed out with excitement.

NANKEEN NIGHT HERON photographed from my special secret hiding place down a rarely used path in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

I’d never seen one before.

A juvenile NANKEEN NIGHT HERON – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

I thought I was looking at a very rare bird, but of course I later saw it was very common in the RBG, Melbourne Zoo and even, my current home location (just haven’t seen it here yet).

Perhaps not very well focused, but this long-distance shot of the dead tree where the NANKEEN NIGHT HERONS bask in the late Winter sun in the Royal Botanic Gardens gives you an idea of how many there were that day.
A further distant shot of the upright part of that dead tree. Sometimes you’d see as many as 25-30 Nankeen Nigh Herons on its upper branches.

It’s a large, but comparatively dumpy, large-headed heron.  It’s beak is large, deep and black.  This heron has yellowish legs.  The plumage is a distinctive dark cinnamon above with dark crown and white drooping crest in breeding season.  The underparts are buff shading to white.

The juvenile is also distinctive with dark brown above and plentiful bold white spots.  (It’s called the Rufous Night Heron on some web sites).

I think it is my favourite bird of all I’ve photographed (since I took up Photography as a hobby in 2010).

I managed to get some great shots up-close in the outdoor restaurant area at Melbourne Zoo’s Japanese Garden entrance.

It even beats my second favourite – the White-faced Heron.

Since I can’t get outdoors for a walk today, despite the superb cool weather  and fluffy white clouds scattered across the vivid blue Summer sky, I decided to share some images from my archives.

Hope you enjoyed them 🙂

19 thoughts on “NANKEEN NIGHT HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus)

    1. I was very glad to get those side-on shots of the 2 white crest feathers, Peggy. One can’t help but wonder what they’re for? I mean to say male birds often have colourful plumage, but 2 single white strands?

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  1. The colors are different, but the shape of the body, the plumes, the feet and legs — everything else is so close to our black-crowned night heron it would be easy to mistake one for the other if seen only in dim light, or profile. I saw four night herons lined up on a telephone wire this week. I’ve never seen such a thing. They’re resident here, so maybe they were just checking out spots for nesting. It’s about that time.

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    1. I love herons, Linda. Especially since they’re quite large and easy to capture in a photo 😀

      I would love to have seen the 4 herons on a telephone wire. I don’t suppose you had your camera with you?


    1. I think they’re gorgeous. Probably that lovely soft pinkish/salmon/cinnamon colour. But it’s the two white feathers coming out of their necks that keep me fascinated. They’re surprisingly big when you’re squatting down next to them. I guess I’m just used to the size of blackbirds and ducks etc. I love herons and egrets.

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  2. Forgot to mention how much I love your header shot of the Heron. And what great shots of the night herons. Funny thing is that I was taking some shots of more common ducks and never even noticed our Black-crowned Night Herons roosting in the shrubbery behind them until I downloaded the pics and zoomed in.

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    1. The header shot (and one at the bottom of the screen) are at the nearest pond about 10 minutes walk from my ‘back door’, Gunta. I think it is the same White-faced Heron that lives in this area as i’ve seen it in various ponds or even, down on the rocks of the large space of water downriver. I only ever see the one heron in this area though. I’m always wondering if it has a mate.


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