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Black-crowned Night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax

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
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
Bangladesh Native Extant      
Barbados Native Extant      
Belarus Native Extant Yes    
Belgium Native Extant      
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
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      
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
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
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
Iraq Native Extant     Yes
Ireland Vagrant Extant      
Israel Native Extant     Yes
Italy Native Extant     Yes
Jamaica Native Extant      
Japan Native Extant      
Jordan Native Extant Yes   Yes
Kazakhstan Native Extant Yes    
Kenya Native Extant      
Kuwait Native Extant     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      
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
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
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  
Spain Native Extant     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
Taiwan (China) Native Extant      
Tajikistan Native Extant Yes    
Tanzania Native Extant Yes    
Thailand Native Extant      
Timor-Leste Native Extant      
Togo Native Extant      
Trinidad and Tobago Native Extant      
Tunisia Native Extant      
Turkey Native Extant      
Turkmenistan Native Extant Yes    
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Native Extant      
Uganda Native Extant      
Ukraine Native Extant     Yes
United Arab Emirates Native Extant     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
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 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 Aliakmon estuaries 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
Jordan Northern Jordan Valley (North Ghor) site factsheet
Malaysia Matang coast site factsheet
Mali Koumbé Niasso site factsheet
Mali Lac Débo - Lac Oualado Débo site factsheet
Pakistan Drigh 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 Gornje Podunavlje site factsheet
Serbia Jegricka site factsheet
Serbia Labudovo Okno site factsheet
Serbia Obedska bara site factsheet
Serbia Srednje Potamišje site factsheet
Serbia Zasavica 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 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 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 (2014) Species factsheet: Nycticorax nycticorax. Downloaded from on 23/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/07/2014.

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 and egrets)
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
- Climate change species distributions