The common name of the Nankeen Night Heron arose in early colonial times from the colour of nankeen, a cotton cloth from China. Photo: Contributed.
The common name of the Nankeen Night Heron arose in early colonial times from the colour of nankeen, a cotton cloth from China. Photo: Contributed.

KEEN: A bird to add to your list for citizen science project

As its name suggests the nankeen night heron is active at night when it feeds in shallow water on aquatic insects, crustaceans and fish.

It roosts in a tree during the day and can be difficult to see.

It is fairly widespread through Asia including Indonesia, Philippines, PNG, Pacific Island and a small colony has established itself in New Zealand.

The nankeen night heron is a stocky heron with rich cinnamon upperparts, white-buff underparts, a black crown, and yellow legs and feet.

The head is large, the neck short (giving a stooped appearance), and the legs relatively short. During breeding the back of the head bears three white nuptial plumes.

The bill is dark olive-green, and the eyes are yellow.

Young birds are heavily spotted and streaked white, brown and orange-brown.

It visits well-vegetated wetlands, and is found along shallow river margins, mangroves, floodplains, swamps, and parks and gardens.

They breed throughout the year, depending on food availability.

Breeding takes place in colonies which can have hundreds of birds and they often breed together with egrets and cormorants.

The nest is a loose stick platform in a tree over water.

Both sexes incubate the eggs and feed the chicks. 

The common name of the nankeen night heron arose in early colonial times from the colour of nankeen, a cotton cloth from China.

The best places to see them are at the Botanic Gardens and the Baldwin Swamp Enviro park.

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count concludes this weekend and it will be interesting to see the result.

Last year the following birds were the top ten in Australia:

1 Rainbow Lorikeet,

2 Noisy Miner,

3 Australian Magpie,

4 Sulphur-crested Cockatoo,

5 Galah,

6 House Sparrow,

7 Silver Gull,

8 Common Myna,

9 Welcome Swallow,

10 Australian White Ibis.

The Rainbow lorikeet remains the most common bird in Australia with more than 400,000 counted.

Next week I will provide a report on the results of the 2020 count.

Allan Briggs is the secretary of BirdLife Capricornia - Contact him with your bird questions at abriggs@irock.com.au



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