Animal Name: Blackcrowned Night Heron
Scientific Name: Nycticorax nycticorax
Habitat: It generally prefers slow-moving water bodies with plenty of emergent vegetation, such as estuaries, swamps, marshes, lakes, mangroves, rivers, dams and sewage ponds.
Distribution: Occurs from Japan and South-East Asia to Europe south to Madagascar and sub-Saharan Africa, largely absent from the DRC and Angola. In southern Africa, it is common in central and southern Mozambique, Zimbabwe, much of South Africa (excluding the arid Karoo and Kalahari), northern and eastern Botswana and patches of Namibia, including the Caprivi Strip.
Diet: It eats fish and a variety of other animals, foraging at dusk and night to prevent competition with other herons. It mainly hunts by either waiting on a perch or on the shoreline, catching anything that comes to close, or by wading through the water and stabbing prey.
Monogamous colonial nester, breeding in groups of 10-1000 nests along with other water birds, with each male establishing a territory around a platform on which it displays to females.
The nest is built by the female with material provided by the male, consisting of a platform of sticks and reeds, typically placed in a reedbed or more rarely a flooded bush or tree, or even on a cliff overhanging a river.
Egg-laying season is year-round, mainly peaking during the rain season, such as December-January in Zimbabwe and September-October in the Western Cape.
It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 22-26 days.
The chicks are fed by both parents, first leaving the nest for the surrounding vegetation after about 20-25 days. They only fledge when they are 40-50 days old.