The Bird in your Backyard: Black Crowned Night Heron

October 12, 2013

We must admit that, the very purpose of writing an article in Daijiworld is to inspire School Children, Youngsters, Students and Nature lovers to make conservation their top priority. However, this time though, we were inspired to write about the local bird species commonly observed in and around Mangalore City because of the very many responses by way of comments, emails and phone calls from well wishers when it came to highlighting the beautiful birds in our backyard. (The Bird in your Backyard - Bronze Winged Jacana).

Many have taken time to write or call us on the many bird discoveries that they have done. Some elders have called up to say that they are now in a position to identify a few of the local birds by ear, merely by listening to their distinctive calls, whistles, and in some cases by their flight pattern. A few schools and Colleges have evinced keen interest in mapping the bird fauna of South Kanara District, as a project. This is a clear indication that the enthusiasm of nature lovers for birding is growing.

We are glad that common citizens are beginning to realize that conservation is every body's business and nature loving citizens can play a pivotal role in policy matters concerning protection of wildlife.

This time around, we bring you pictures of the Black crowned Night Heron or simply called the Night Heron with a range that spans five continents. The scientific name Nycticorax means "Night Raven" and refers to the species nocturnal habits. The Night Heron is the most widespread heron in the world, with a very large population in the Western Ghats. We have deliberately selected this bird because of the very many advantages in terms of regular sighting in almost all aquatic habitats in and around Mangalore and the bird's friendly behavior. Unlike any other bird, the Night Heron is commonly observed even during the daytime and is never shy of humans. In fact, once you understand the bird's behavior, it allows you to photograph the bird at close quarters. We have, once again, provided pictures of the bird right from the juvenile (Young) stage to various stages of growth so that people learn to appreciate the distinctive color patterns, which help the bird to survive from predators.

The Night Heron is a typical backyard bird. It is a fact that this bird is called NIGHT HERON because it feeds throughout the night, right up to dawn. Hence it is commonly referred to as the Night heron. Unlike other Herons it is a night feeder in order to avoid competition with day Herons (Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Indian Pond Heron, and Little Green Heron). However to our utter surprise we have noticed hundreds of Night herons feeding throughout the day, along with a number of other bird species like White breasted water fowl, common sandpiper, and all types of egrets. We have noticed this behavior for more than a year and would request Professors, Students and their respective guides to make a study on the day and night behavior of the Night Heron. In doing our little bit for nature, we aid in the conservation effort, especially by collecting a wide spread body of data, which may be unavailable in text books or the web.

We have a few suggestions to make with respect to this beautiful bird. We request school children and students to spend time in observing the eating habits of this particular bird. Just to give you a clue, unlike most other storks and Herons, the Night Heron is an opportunistic feeder, and prefers to feed especially in shallow water. It grasps its prey with its bill instead of stabbing it. Another area of research could be in understanding the social behavior of black crowned Night Herons, because they are known to associate with other species of herons and other aquatic birds frequently. Students of Zoology can try to understand the population dynamics, mainly because the population of many aquatic birds was on the decline and was attributed to the indiscriminate use of banned chemicals like DDT & Endosulphan.   Rest assured that the status of these populations is indicative of environmental quality.

At this time of the year, the Night Heron, flock in wetland habitats or canals. Hundreds of birds will suddenly appear in an area where food waste is present, only to vanish when the food is exhausted. It scavenges on fish and meat.

Black crowned Night Herons inhabit various fresh and saltwater wetland habitats. Young birds start to breed at two years of age. Like most herons, they nest in colonies, often mixed with other species.  Night herons are presumed to be monogamous (Partners for life). Adult Black-crowned Night-Herons apparently do not distinguish between their own young and those from other nests, and will brood chicks not their own. Overall, populations are stable. It is important to note that because of their wide distribution and feeding habits, this bird is an excellent indicator of ecosystem health.


Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira - Archives



By Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira
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Comment on this article

  • Lily Sequeira, Mangalore/Sydney

    Sat, Oct 19 2013

    Shiva, Karkala

    Thank you. Well, I am still a Mangalore girl. Spent lot of time in Karkala by the way. Loved playing in the woods at my Gran's. I always loved the Kuppul. Shy bird. Loved the bronze wings.

  • Dexter, Pune

    Fri, Oct 18 2013

    I have seen the Bird photos sent by you, the Photography is excellent, and a treat for the eyes. I admire your patience in capturing these birds and also the work that you are doing in conservation of Birds and nature.

  • Lyra/Richard Pinto, Mangalore/Sakleshpur

    Fri, Oct 18 2013

    A beautiful article indeed.Hats off to you for your consistent passion. You have given a very detail information about this Night Heroin which we appreciate. Lovely photography. Looking forward to more.Thanks to you Anand and Geeta. Our best wishes always remain.

  • Anil and Melita, Mangalore/ UAE

    Thu, Oct 17 2013

    Anand and Geet... Beautiful pictures, article and we salute your passion for nature and the the creatures that the good Lord has made. Keep inspiring us to be better caretakers of this great bounty!

  • K.Abdul Sattar, Kozhikode ( Kerala )

    Thu, Oct 17 2013

    Dr. Anand Pereira , I am told loves parrots ( Gili ) among'st all the birds in the universe. Why ?

  • Ashok Frank, Mangalore / Toronto

    Wed, Oct 16 2013

    Dear Anand and Geeta, Thank you for this wonderful article. The pictures are super awesome. Continue to keep up the great work as we love to read your articles.

  • Shiva, karkala

    Wed, Oct 16 2013

    Hi Lily Sequeira,

    In tulu "Greater Coucal" or Crow pheasant is called "Kuppul" . I am glad you remember this.

  • Dennis D'Souza, Mangalore /Bendoor

    Wed, Oct 16 2013

    Once again a superb and well written article Anand and Geetha. Hats off to you. This article is a painstaking work of dedication and love for nature, as for the pictures they are just awesome. well done.

  • Lily Sequeira, Mangalore/Sydney

    Wed, Oct 16 2013

    In Mangalore there is a bird called "Kuppul". Wondering if anyone can tell me the english name please. Thanks

  • Liza Gina Pais, Brisbane

    Wed, Oct 16 2013

    Dear Dr Anand & Dr Geeta.
    I have gone through the entire article & found that the contribution is magnanimus,I will show them to all my class mates in shool & share the article with every one who we know.

    Thsi article will help @ Eaton's Hill for my class asignment.

    Thank you again-Liza Gina Pais (Brisbane-QLD)

  • Mohan Frank, Mumbai Mangalore

    Tue, Oct 15 2013

    Dr Anand & Geeta
    Again a beautiful article with great & fantastic pictures with perfect clarity
    Thank you for educating us on this subject Today Iam happy I know something about birds & their habits & will be able to identify them anywhere
    Keep it up Nice work

  • Rakesh, Sakleshpur

    Tue, Oct 15 2013

    Great pictures & nice work..!


    Tue, Oct 15 2013

    DEAR Sir, Its very beautiful pictures & great article.

  • Stany & Josephine Dsouza, Miyar / Mumbai

    Tue, Oct 15 2013

    Fantastic pictures. I wonder how you click them. Keep up the good work.
    Doctor, this is Stany & Josephine from Bombay. We met on 19th August in Mangalore. Hope you remember.No news from Anil.

  • leander Pais, Brisbane

    Tue, Oct 15 2013

    Dear Dr Anand & Dr Geeta.

    Vey informative article & you both have contributed with a lot od dedicated effort.

    We all thank you both for the lovely journey into the wilderness.

    There could not be anything better than your wonderfull ways of sharing knowledge related to Enviornment.

    Regards-Leander Pais (Brisbane)

  • sarah, udupi

    Tue, Oct 15 2013

    Its nice to know about the nature of the birds that exist with in our own locality.nature lovers go around different corners of the world to find out different species of birds while they can find out about birds in their own loacilty that exist and make a note on them.thank u for helping us realize about the birds that exist in our backyard through this beautiful article.

  • Malcom Lewis, Kallianpur/Dubai

    Mon, Oct 14 2013

    Dear Sir its very beautiful, please give the captions to each photos.

  • vivek colaco, field view estate, sundekere post, sakleshpur

    Sun, Oct 13 2013

    Dr Anand and geetha

    We thank you for your nice article on birds it was really interesting. Vivek and Jacintha

  • John. M, Mangalore

    Sun, Oct 13 2013

    Dear Anand: I have been following your articles in Daiji and fascinated by your photos. This one i am forwarding to my grandson in Bombay.

  • P.T. BOPANNA, Bangalore

    Sun, Oct 13 2013

    Dear Dr Anand,

    Thank you for the link. The same has been uploaded on my FB group/page.

  • Meenakshi, Bangalore

    Sun, Oct 13 2013

    Wow!! Stunning pics.. fab:)) Thanks..

  • Marvin, Bangalore

    Sun, Oct 13 2013

    V nice pictures and article.

  • Raju.S.M, Bihar

    Sun, Oct 13 2013

    Pictures are beautiful, thanks.

  • Jonathan, U.K.

    Sun, Oct 13 2013

    Congratulations, Anand and Geeta, on the wonderful article you have written and the stunning photographs. Lexy and I completely share your views that:

    “We are glad that common citizens are beginning to realize that conservation is every body's business and nature loving citizens can play a pivotal role in policy matters concerning protection of wildlife.”

  • Yvonne Frank, Sharjah/Mangalore

    Sun, Oct 13 2013

    Beautiful pictures, very informative article, brings back memories of childhood .... Thanks Anand and Geeta

  • John Prakash, New Ark U.S.A

    Sun, Oct 13 2013

    Excellent photographs. A picture is worth a thousand words.
    The photos make a big difference in the leaning curve.

  • Leona Pais., Brisbane

    Sun, Oct 13 2013

    Excellent bird pics, thanks for sharing this wonderful article and providing us with great knowledge.
    Thank you
    Anand & Geetha.

  • Sunil Baptist, CHIKMAGALUR

    Sun, Oct 13 2013

    Nice pics,great article

  • Dr.Jatinder Singh, NewJersey. U.S

    Sat, Oct 12 2013

    The article on the night heron is very informative and you are doing a great service to the community, educating them about nature, birds and humans, where do we fit into the bigger scheme of things and how we are responsible for ruining nature. You also show that there is hope and the same humans who are ruining the environment can also help turn it around. I can see your passion exuding out of these articles and also how much you care for these issues. Please keep writing these articles, your photos are marvelous.

  • nihal, mangalore

    Sat, Oct 12 2013

    Awesome pictures dad.keep up the good work.

  • Allen Pais, Brisbane

    Sat, Oct 12 2013

    Dr Anand & Geeta.

    Excellent Photography & great knowledge shared.

    Regards-Allen Pais (Brisbane)

  • Bollu, Mangalore

    Sat, Oct 12 2013 beautiful birds...
    a different colors..hit one's eyes..
    God's incarnation...
    In childhood we use to collect photos of animals and one of chewing gum..Jai Ho..

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