Nankeen Night Herons (Nycticorax caledonicus)

The Nankeen Night Heron, Nycticorax caledonicus, also commonly referred to as the Rufous Night Heron, and in Melanesia as Melabaob, is a medium-sized heron.

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A pair of Nankeen Night Herons at the Melbourne Zoo

Nankeen Night Herons


Distribution / Range

It is found throughout much of Australia except the arid inland, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and Melanesia.

A small colony has also been established near Wanganui, New Zealand


The Nankeen Night Heron stands about 56 – 66cm tall.

It is not strictly nocturnal. It often feeds during the day, especially during wet weather.

Diet / Feeding

The bird is dependent on a diet of small fish, reptiles, insects, and sometimes eggs.

It can be seen around freshwater rivers, lakes, bulrushes, estuaries, harbors, and in residential fishponds for goldfish.

Calls / Vocalizations

Voice: Loud “K-oark”, deep-throated rumbling at roost.

Nankeen Night Heron, Nycticorax caledonicus


Nesting: Primarily breeds September – April. A nest platform is built of sticks in a high tree near water, in communal groups.

Eggs: 2-5 light green. Incubation 22 days. Fledge 42-49 days.


Widespread throughout its large range, the Nankeen Night Heron is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened

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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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