Night Heron (Black-crowned Night Heron) Nycticorax nycticorax

Rare visitor to the UK from Continental Europe, although some records relate to birds that have escaped from captivity. A free-flying breeding population once existed at the now-defunct Great Witchingham Wildlife Park up until 2003 and birds continued to commute between there and the nearby section of the Wensum Valley until at least 2007. A small number of adult birds have continued to be recorded in this area until at least 2015.

The nominate race nycticorax occurs across Europe, Asia and Africa; birds in North America belong to the race hoactli, differing mainly in bare part colouration in breeding condition. There is also a small difference in the shape fo the white stripe over the eye although I am not sure this is a reliable feature for separating the races.

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Night Herons, Mirbat Harbour (Dhofar, Oman), 10th November 2017

 

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Night Heron, Liwonde National Park (Malawi), 24th September 2008

 

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Night Heron, Al Qurum Park (Muscat, Oman), 3rd November 2017

 

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second-summer Night Heron, Titchwell (Norfolk, UK), 22nd May 2002

 

Night Heron, Camargue (Bouche-du-Rhone, France), 25th May 2000

 

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Night Herons, Birecik (Turkey), 14th May 2010

 

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Night Heron, Great Ryburgh (Norfolk, UK), 2nd June 2017

 

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Night Heron, Ebro Delta (Cataluña, Spain), 20th May 2013

 

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Night Heron, Liwonde National Park (Malawi), 27th May 2011

 

Night Heron, Mughsayl (Dhofar, Oman), 12th November 2017

 

The species also occurs in North America where it's known as Black-crowned Night Heron (race hoactli). They appear very similar to European and African birds although the adult has a shorter white stripe over the eye and the bare parts colours are a bit different in breeding condition. This form could potentially occur over here as a vagrant, but I don't think there are any confirmed records yet.

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adult Black-crowned Night Heron (race hoactli), Tamiami Trail Loop Road (Florida, USA), 14th April 2013

 

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adult Black-crowned Night Heron (race hoactli), Loxahatchee (Florida, USA), 26th April 2013

 

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adult Black-crowned Night Heron (race hoactli), Famosa Slough (California, USA), 19th April 2005

 

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first-summer? Black-crowned Night Heron (race hoactli), Famosa Slough (California, USA), 19th April 2005

 

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juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron (race hoactli), Famosa Slough (California, USA), 19th April 2005

 

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adult Black-crowned Night Heron (race hoactli), Ramer Lake (California, USA), 22nd April 2005

 

adult Black-crowned Night Heron (race hoactli), Famosa Slough (California, USA), 19th April 2005

 

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immature Black-crowned Night Herons (race hoactli), Tamiami Trail Loop Road (Florida, USA), 14th April 2013

 

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immature Black-crowned Night Heron (race hoactli), Anhinga Trail, Everglades (Florida, USA), 18th April 2013