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White-backed night heron

white backed night heron
Nycticorax leuconotus
Calherodius leuconotus

The white-backed night heron Gorsachius leuconotus is a species of heron in the family Ardeidae It is found in sub-Saharan Africa


  • 1 Taxonomy
  • 2 Distribution and habitat
  • 3 Description
  • 4 Behaviour and ecology
  • 5 Status
  • 6 References


The white-backed night heron was described as Ardea leuconotus by Wagler in 1827 The IOC World Bird List currently places it in the genus Gorsachius, while BirdLife International and the Handbook of the Birds of the World place it in Calherodius Its name derives from a white triangle on its back

Distribution and habitat

This night heron is found in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, with a distribution size estimated at 7,860,000 km2 3,030,000 sq mi The white-backed night heron's habitat is primarily dense forests It is found in streams, mangroves, marshes, and islands in streams and lakes


Its length is 50–55 cm 20–22 in The head is black The eyes are large and red, with white eye rings around them The lores are pale yellow The throat is white There is a short crest The upperparts are blackish-brown The neck and breast are rufous On the back, there is a white triangular patch formed by the white scapulars The belly is whitish-brown The legs are yellow The immature heron's breast is streaked, and its upperwing coverts have white spots Chicks have olive-brown down

Behaviour and ecology

The white-backed night heron is found in singles and pairs It is nocturnal During the day, it roosts in vegetation in marshes and forests It forages along edges of water It has been observed to eat fish, amphibians, mollusks and insects It is usually quiet Its alarm call is kroak, and it gives the call taash when disturbed It usually breeds in the rainy season or early in the dry season Its nest is well-hidden, usually built in trees and bushes near water and also sometimes in reedbeds, mangroves, rocks, and caves Its nest is a platform of sticks or reeds, 25–30 cm 98–118 in wide There are two to three greenish-white eggs in a clutch, and incubation lasts roughly 24 to 26 days The chicks leave the nest after six to seven weeks It seems to be sedentary, but may migrate to locations that have heavy rain


The population trend of the white-backed night heron is probably stable because it does not seem to have population declines or significant threats Because of this and its large range, the IUCN Red List has assessed the species to be of least concern There is habitat loss in southern Africa In Nigeria, white-backed night herons are hunted and used for traditional medicine


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International 2012 "Calherodius leuconotus" IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Version 20132 International Union for Conservation of Nature Retrieved 26 November 2013 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "White-backed Night Heron Nycticorax leuconotus Wagler" HeronConservation IUCN-SSC Heron Specialist Group 2011 Retrieved 25 October 2016 
  3. ^ Gill, F; Donsker, D eds "Storks, ibis & herons" IOC World Bird List Version 64 Retrieved 27 October 2016 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Species factsheet: Calherodius leuconotus" birdlifeorg BirdLife International Retrieved 22 October 2016 
  5. ^ Martínez-Vilalta, A; Motis, A; Kirwan, G M 2016 "White-backed Night-heron Calherodius leuconotus" In del Hoyo, J; Elliott, A; Sargatal, J; Christie, D A; de Juana, E Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive Barcelona: Lynx Edicions 
  6. ^ a b Hancock, Peter; Weiersbye, Ingrid 2015 Birds of Botswana Princeton University Press p 62 ISBN 9781400874170 
  7. ^ a b c d Borrow, Nik; Demey, Ron 2013 Birds of Senegal and The Gambia Bloomsbury p 42 ISBN 9781408171011 
  8. ^ a b Redman, Nigel; Stevenson, Terry; Fanshawe, John 2010 Birds of the Horn of Africa Bloomsbury p 50 ISBN 9781408135761 
  9. ^ Newman, Kenneth 2002 Newman's Birds of Southern Africa Struik p 90 ISBN 9781868727353 
  10. ^ The Atlas of Southern African Birds PDF p 67 

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White-backed night heron

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