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[2] The IOC World Bird List currently places it in the genus Gorsachius,[3] while BirdLife International and the Handbook of the Birds of the World place it in Calherodius[4][5] Its name derives from a white triangle on its back[6]

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[4] The white-backed night heron's habitat is primarily dense forests It is found in streams, mangroves, marshes, and islands in streams and lakes[4]


Its length is 50–55 cm 20–22 in[7] The head is black The eyes are large and red, with white eye rings around them The lores are pale yellow[8] The throat is white There is a short crest[7] The upperparts are blackish-brown The neck and breast are rufous[7] On the back, there is a white triangular patch formed by the white scapulars[7] The belly is whitish-brown[2] The legs are yellow[9] The immature heron's breast is streaked, and its upperwing coverts have white spots[6] Chicks have olive-brown down[2]

Behaviour and ecology

The white-backed night heron is found in singles and pairs[8] It is nocturnal During the day, it roosts in vegetation in marshes and forests[4] It forages along edges of water It has been observed to eat fish, amphibians, mollusks and insects[2] It is usually quiet Its alarm call is kroak, and it gives the call taash when disturbed[2] It usually breeds in the rainy season or early in the dry season[4] Its nest is well-hidden, usually built in trees and bushes near water and also sometimes in reedbeds, mangroves, rocks, and caves[4] Its nest is a platform of sticks or reeds, 25–30 cm 98–118 in wide[2] 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[2] It seems to be sedentary, but may migrate to locations that have heavy rain[10]


The population trend of the white-backed night heron is probably stable because it does not seem to have population declines or significant threats[4] Because of this and its large range, the IUCN Red List has assessed the species to be of least concern[1] There is habitat loss in southern Africa In Nigeria, white-backed night herons are hunted and used for traditional medicine[4]


  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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