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Black-crowned Night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Low
Land mass type   Average mass 810 g


  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 41,200,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 41,200,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor Estimated 2009
Population trend Decreasing -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 8.8 - - -
Population justification: The global population is estimated to number c.510,000-3,600,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: c.100,000-1 million breeding pairs, >c.10,000 individuals on migration and >c.10,000 wintering individuals in China; c.100,000-1 million breeding pairs in Taiwan; c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in Korea and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in Japan (Brazil 2009).
Trend justification: The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations may be stable, others have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006). This species has undergone a large and statistically significant increase over the last 40 years in North America (294% increase over 40 years, equating to a 40.8% increase per decade; data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007) Note, however, that these surveys cover less than 50% of the species's range in North America.

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Afghanistan Native Extant Yes      
Albania Native Extant Yes      
Algeria Native Extant        
Angola Native Extant        
Anguilla (to UK) Native Extant        
Antigua and Barbuda Native Extant        
Argentina Native Extant        
Armenia Native Extant Yes      
Aruba (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Australia Vagrant Extant        
Austria Native Extant Yes      
Azerbaijan Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Bahamas Native Extant        
Bahrain Native Extant     Yes Yes
Bangladesh Native Extant        
Barbados Native Extant        
Belarus Native Extant Yes      
Belgium Native Extant       Yes
Belize Native Extant   Yes    
Benin Native Extant        
Bermuda (to UK) Native Extant        
Bhutan Native Extant        
Bolivia Native Extant        
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Bosnia and Herzegovina Native Extant Yes      
Botswana Native Extant Yes      
Brazil Native Extant        
Brunei Native Extant        
Bulgaria Native Extant     Yes Yes
Burkina Faso Native Extant        
Burundi Native Extant        
Cambodia Native Extant        
Cameroon Native Extant        
Canada Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Cape Verde Vagrant Extant        
Cayman Islands (to UK) Native Extant        
Central African Republic Native Extant        
Chad Native Extant        
Chile Native Extant        
China (mainland) Native Extant        
Cocos (Keeling) Islands (to Australia) Vagrant Extant        
Colombia Native Extant        
Comoros Native Extant        
Congo Native Extant        
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Native Extant        
Costa Rica Native Extant   Yes    
Côte d'Ivoire Native Extant        
Croatia Native Extant Yes      
Cuba Native Extant        
Curaçao (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Cyprus Native Extant     Yes  
Czech Republic Native Extant       Yes
Denmark Vagrant Extant        
Djibouti Vagrant Extant        
Dominica Native Extant        
Dominican Republic Native Extant        
Ecuador Native Extant        
Egypt Native Extant        
El Salvador Native Extant        
Equatorial Guinea Native Extant        
Eritrea Native Extant        
Ethiopia Native Extant        
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Native Extant        
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Vagrant Extant        
Finland Vagrant Extant        
France Native Extant     Yes Yes
French Guiana Native Extant        
French Southern Territories Vagrant Extant        
Gabon Native Extant        
Gambia Native Extant        
Georgia Native Extant Yes      
Germany Native Extant Yes      
Ghana Native Extant        
Gibraltar (to UK) Vagrant Extant        
Greece Native Extant     Yes Yes
Greenland (to Denmark) Vagrant Extant        
Grenada Native Extant        
Guadeloupe (to France) Native Extant   Yes    
Guam (to USA) Native Extant   Yes    
Guatemala Native Extant        
Guinea Native Extant        
Guinea-Bissau Native Extant Yes      
Guyana Native Extant        
Haiti Native Extant        
Honduras Native Extant        
Hong Kong (China) Native Extant Yes      
Hungary Native Extant Yes      
Iceland Vagrant Extant        
India Native Extant        
Indonesia Native Extant        
Iran, Islamic Republic of Native Extant     Yes Yes
Iraq Native Extant     Yes Yes
Ireland Vagrant Extant        
Israel Native Extant     Yes Yes
Italy Native Extant     Yes Yes
Jamaica Native Extant       Yes
Japan Native Extant        
Jordan Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Kazakhstan Native Extant Yes      
Kenya Native Extant        
Kuwait Native Extant     Yes Yes
Kyrgyzstan Vagrant Extant        
Laos Native Extant        
Lebanon Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Lesotho Native Extant        
Liberia Native Extant        
Libya Vagrant Extant        
Liechtenstein Vagrant Extant        
Luxembourg Vagrant Extant        
Macao (China) Native Extant        
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Native Extant       Yes
Madagascar Native Extant        
Malawi Native Extant        
Malaysia Native Extant        
Maldives Vagrant Extant        
Mali Native Extant        
Malta Native Extant        
Martinique (to France) Native Extant        
Mauritania Native Extant        
Mayotte (to France) Native Extant        
Mexico Native Extant        
Micronesia, Federated States of Native Extant   Yes    
Moldova Native Extant     Yes Yes
Mongolia Vagrant Extant        
Montenegro Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Montserrat (to UK) Native Extant        
Morocco Native Extant        
Mozambique Native Extant        
Myanmar Native Extant        
Namibia Native Extant        
Nepal Native Extant        
Netherlands Native Extant Yes      
Nicaragua Native Extant        
Niger Native Extant        
Nigeria Native Extant        
North Korea Vagrant Extant        
Northern Mariana Islands (to USA) Native Extant   Yes    
Norway Vagrant Extant        
Oman Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Pakistan Native Extant        
Palau Native Extant   Yes    
Palestinian Authority Territories Native Extant     Yes  
Panama Native Extant        
Paraguay Native Extant        
Peru Native Extant        
Philippines Native Extant        
Poland Native Extant Yes      
Portugal Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Puerto Rico (to USA) Native Extant        
Qatar Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Romania Native Extant     Yes Yes
Russia (Asian) Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Russia (European) Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Rwanda Native Extant        
São Tomé e Príncipe Vagrant Extant        
Saudi Arabia Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Senegal Native Extant Yes      
Serbia Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Seychelles Vagrant Extant        
Sierra Leone Native Extant        
Singapore Native Extant        
Sint Maarten (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Slovakia Native Extant Yes      
Slovenia Native Extant Yes      
Somalia Native Extant        
South Africa Native Extant Yes      
South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands Native Extant        
South Korea Native Extant        
South Sudan Native Extant   Yes   Yes
Spain Native Extant     Yes Yes
Sri Lanka Native Extant        
St Helena (to UK) Vagrant Extant        
St Kitts and Nevis Native Extant        
St Lucia Native Extant        
St Martin (to France) Native Extant   Yes    
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) Vagrant Extant     Yes  
St Vincent and the Grenadines Native Extant        
Sudan Native Extant        
Suriname Native Extant        
Swaziland Native Extant        
Sweden Vagrant Extant        
Switzerland Native Extant Yes      
Syria Native Extant     Yes Yes
Taiwan (China) Native Extant        
Tajikistan Native Extant Yes      
Tanzania Native Extant Yes      
Thailand Native Extant        
Timor-Leste Native Extant       Yes
Togo Native Extant        
Trinidad and Tobago Native Extant        
Tunisia Native Extant        
Turkey Native Extant       Yes
Turkmenistan Native Extant Yes      
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Native Extant        
Uganda Native Extant        
Ukraine Native Extant     Yes Yes
United Arab Emirates Native Extant     Yes Yes
United Kingdom Vagrant Extant        
Uruguay Native Extant Yes      
USA Native Extant Yes      
Uzbekistan Native Extant Yes      
Venezuela Native Extant        
Vietnam Native Extant        
Virgin Islands (to UK) Native Extant   Yes    
Virgin Islands (to USA) Native Extant   Yes    
Western Sahara Native Extant        
Yemen Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Zambia Native Extant        
Zimbabwe Native Extant        

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Austria March/Thaya riverine forest site factsheet
Austria Neusiedler See site factsheet
Austria Storage lakes on the lower Inn site factsheet
Azerbaijan Gizilagach State Reserve site factsheet
Botswana Okavango Delta site factsheet
Bulgaria Golia Island site factsheet
Bulgaria Gorni Dabnik-Telish Reservoir site factsheet
Bulgaria Hadzi Dimitrovo Fish-ponds site factsheet
Bulgaria Ibisha Island site factsheet
Bulgaria Konush Reservoir site factsheet
Bulgaria Mandra-Poda complex site factsheet
Bulgaria Pozharevo Island site factsheet
Bulgaria Srebarna site factsheet
Bulgaria Vardim Island site factsheet
Cameroon Kalamaloué National Park site factsheet
China (mainland) Erlinggou site factsheet
Croatia Alluvial wetlands of the River Danube site factsheet
Croatia Alluvial wetlands of the River Drava site factsheet
Croatia Danube and Drava rivers' lowland areas site factsheet
Croatia Grudnjak fish-ponds site factsheet
Croatia Jelas field including fishponds and wet pastures along Sava RIver site factsheet
Croatia Lower Sava river site factsheet
Czech Republic Ceskobudejovicke rybniky ponds site factsheet
Czech Republic Jaroslavické rybníky ponds site factsheet
Czech Republic Lednicke rybniky ponds (Lednice fish-ponds) site factsheet
Czech Republic Trebonsko (Trebon region) site factsheet
France Barrage d'Artix et Saligue du Gave de Pau site factsheet
France Barthes de l'Adour site factsheet
France Basse Vallée de la Durance site factsheet
France Basse Vallée du Doubs : Dole Sud site factsheet
France Brenne centrale site factsheet
France Brenne: Forêt de la Petite-Brenne site factsheet
France Camargue site factsheet
France Domaine d'Orx site factsheet
France Etangs de Sologne: St Viatre, Marcilly-en-Gault et forêt de Bruadan site factsheet
France Gorges du Gardon site factsheet
France Iles du Haut-Rhône site factsheet
France La Dombes site factsheet
France Lac de Grand-Lieu site factsheet
France Marais de L'Ile Vieille site factsheet
France Marais entre Crau et Grand Rhône: Meyranne, Chanoine, Plan de Bourg et Salins du Caban site factsheet
France Marais poitevin et baie de l'Aiguillon site factsheet
France Mars sur Allier site factsheet
France Massifs de Fontainebleau et zones humides adjacentes site factsheet
France Moyenne Vallée de la Durance site factsheet
France Petite Camargue fluvio-lacustre site factsheet
France Queue de Brenne : Etang des Loges, Grand et Petit Mez site factsheet
France Val d'Allier : Saint-Yorre-Joze site factsheet
France Val d'Allier Bourbonnais site factsheet
France Val de Drôme: Les Ramières-printegarde site factsheet
France Vallée de la Garonne : Boussens à Carbonne site factsheet
France Vallée de la Garonne : Moissac site factsheet
France Vallée de la Garonne : Palayre et environs site factsheet
France Vallée de la Loire: Pit majeur d'Iguerande à Décize site factsheet
Greece Amvrakikos gulf site factsheet
Greece Axios, Loudias and Aliakmonas rivers' deltas site factsheet
Greece Lake Kerkini site factsheet
Greece Northern Evros and Ardas riparian forest site factsheet
Greece Protected area of Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli forest site factsheet
Guinea-Bissau Arquipélago dos Bijagós site factsheet
Guyana Shell Beach site factsheet
Hungary Béda–Karapancsa site factsheet
Hungary Hanság site factsheet
Hungary Hortobágy and Tisza-to site factsheet
Hungary Lower Tisza Valley site factsheet
Hungary Szigetköz site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Anzali Mordab complex site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Arjan Protected Area site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Bandar Kiashar lagoon and mouth of Sefid Rud site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Lake Kobi site factsheet
Iraq Haur Al Hammar site factsheet
Iraq Haur Chubaisah area site factsheet
Iraq Haur Om am Nyaj site factsheet
Israel Carmel coast site factsheet
Israel Hefer valley site factsheet
Israel Jezre'el, Harod and Bet She'an valleys site factsheet
Israel Northern lower Jordan valley site factsheet
Israel Zevulun valley site factsheet
Italy Adda Sud Park heronries site factsheet
Italy Caorle lagoon site factsheet
Italy Codigoro heronry site factsheet
Italy Fucecchio marsh site factsheet
Italy Grado and Marano lagoon site factsheet
Italy Gran Sasso and Laga mountains site factsheet
Italy Lake Trasimeno site factsheet
Italy Lakes Montepulciano and Chiusi site factsheet
Italy Lomellina and Heronries of Pavia province site factsheet
Italy Marengo heronry site factsheet
Italy Novara heronries site factsheet
Italy Po Delta site factsheet
Italy Pools of Florence plain site factsheet
Italy Punte Alberete and Valle della Canna, Pineta San Vitale and Pialassa della Baiona site factsheet
Italy River Mincio and Bosco Fontana site factsheet
Italy River Po from Dora Baltea mouth to Scrivia mouth site factsheet
Italy River Sesia heronries site factsheet
Italy Simeto mouth and middle course and Biviere di Lentini site factsheet
Italy Taro river site factsheet
Italy Ticino river site factsheet
Italy Valli di Argenta site factsheet
Italy Valli di Comacchio and Bonifica del Mezzano site factsheet
Italy Venice lagoon site factsheet
Italy Vercelli rice-fields site factsheet
Jordan Northern Jordan Valley (North Ghor) site factsheet
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan portion of the river Volga's Delta - Zhambay site factsheet
Malaysia Matang coast site factsheet
Mali Koumbé Niasso site factsheet
Mali Lac Débo - Lac Oualado Débo site factsheet
Mexico Estero Cardonal site factsheet
Pakistan Drigh Wildlife Sanctuary site factsheet
Pakistan Kinjhar (Kalri) Wildlife Sanctuary site factsheet
Poland Brzeszcze ponds site factsheet
Poland Lower Skawa River Valley site factsheet
Poland Lower Sola River Valley site factsheet
Poland Upper Vistula River Valley site factsheet
Portugal Paul do Boquilobo site factsheet
Romania Balta Mică a Brăilei site factsheet
Romania Balta Vederoasa site factsheet
Romania Blahniţa site factsheet
Romania Braţul Borcea site factsheet
Romania Calafat - Ciuperceni - Dunăre site factsheet
Romania Danube Delta site factsheet
Romania Dunăre - Ostroave site factsheet
Romania Gruia - Gârla Mare site factsheet
Romania Macedonia forest site factsheet
Romania Miheşu de Câmpie-Taureni fish-ponds site factsheet
Russia (European) Kizlyar Bay site factsheet
Russia (European) Salt lakes in the Primorsko-Akhtarsk area site factsheet
Russia (European) Varnavinsko-Kryukovskaya irrigation system site factsheet
Russia (European) Veselovskoye reservoir site factsheet
Senegal Djoudj wetlands site factsheet
Serbia Becej fish-pond site factsheet
Serbia Carska bara site factsheet
Serbia Obedska bara site factsheet
Serbia Subotica lakes and sandy terrain site factsheet
Serbia Usce Save u Dunav site factsheet
Slovakia Kralova reservoir site factsheet
Slovakia Medzibodrozie site factsheet
Slovakia Senné site factsheet
Slovenia Spodnja Sava site factsheet
South Africa Nyl River Floodplain site factsheet
Spain Albufera de Mallorca and Albufereta de Pollença marshes site factsheet
Spain Albufera de Valencia marshes site factsheet
Spain Azután reservoir site factsheet
Spain Belver de los Montes-Gallegos del Pan site factsheet
Spain Bornos reservoir site factsheet
Spain Castrejón reservoir site factsheet
Spain Castronuño-Zamora site factsheet
Spain Córdoba countryside site factsheet
Spain Cortados del Jarama site factsheet
Spain Ebro delta site factsheet
Spain El Hondo wetland site factsheet
Spain Guadalquivir marshes site factsheet
Spain Las Cañas lake site factsheet
Spain Malpica island (River Tagus) site factsheet
Spain Medas islands site factsheet
Spain Mérida-Montijo reservoir site factsheet
Spain Redbeeds and copses of Aranjuez site factsheet
Spain River Ebro ox-bow lakes site factsheet
Spain River Pisuerga at Dueñas site factsheet
Spain Rivers Cinca and Alcanadre riverine forest site factsheet
Spain Santa Pola salt-pans site factsheet
Spain Tablas de Daimiel marshes; 'Vicario' and 'Gasset' reservoirs and Malagón lakes site factsheet
Spain Tierra de Campos steppes site factsheet
Spain Valongo site factsheet
Tanzania Wembere steppe site factsheet
Trinidad and Tobago Caroni Swamp site factsheet
Turkey Akşehir and Eber Lakes site factsheet
Turkey Göksu Delta site factsheet
Turkey İznik Lake site factsheet
Turkey Keban Islands site factsheet
Turkey Manyas Lake (Kuş Lake) site factsheet
Turkey Meriç Delta site factsheet
Turkey Sarıyar Reservoir site factsheet
Turkey South Shore of Lake Van site factsheet
Turkey Uluabat Lake site factsheet
Ukraine Berezans'kyj lyman and Solonets Tuzly pond site factsheet
Ukraine Cholhyns'kyj zakaznyk site factsheet
Ukraine Dgulyn lake site factsheet
Ukraine Dnipro delta site factsheet
Ukraine Dniprovs'ko-Oril's'kyj Nature Reserve site factsheet
Ukraine Dnister delta site factsheet
Ukraine Dranyts'kyj protected locality site factsheet
Ukraine Ingul river valley site factsheet
Ukraine Kagul lake site factsheet
Ukraine Klivodyns'kyj protected locality site factsheet
Ukraine Konka river mouth site factsheet
Ukraine Kugurluj and Kartal lakes site factsheet
Ukraine River Danube site factsheet
Ukraine Stanychno-Lugans'ke fish-farm site factsheet
Ukraine Sul's'ka bay site factsheet
Ukraine Syvash Bay site factsheet
Uzbekistan Mirzaaral Tugay site factsheet
Uzbekistan Zarafshan State Nature Reserve site factsheet
Vietnam Chua Hang site factsheet
Vietnam Tra Cu site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Mangrove Vegetation Above High Tide Level suitable breeding
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Mangrove Vegetation Above High Tide Level suitable non-breeding
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland suitable breeding
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland suitable non-breeding
Marine Intertidal Salt Marshes (Emergent Grasses) suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls) suitable breeding
Altitude 0 - 4800 m Occasional altitudinal limits (min) 750 m


Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Food (human) Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent
Handicrafts, jewellery, decorations, curios Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Nycticorax nycticorax. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Ardeidae (Herons)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 41,200,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change
- 2015 European Red List assessment