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Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 15, 2021

Japanese Night Heron: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Japanese night heron facts are amazing.

Japanese night heron (Gorsachius goisagi), is a small stocky species of night heron with a reddish-brown head and neck. They primarily breed in Japan during the breeding season of May to July. They are also seen in parts of South Korea during winter and the Philippines and Indonesia during spring and summer.

The preferred habitat range and breeding range of this bird species include dense and damp forests. However, the summer and winter range for this species is threatened and endangered by deforestation. Continuous nest predation by crows is also another huge problem that is currently threatening this population. The conservation status of the Japanese night heron is Vulnerable. They are marked and protected as a species in Japan and Hong Kong.

For more relatable content, check out these Australian pelican facts and Sarus crane facts for kids.

Japanese Night Heron Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Japanese night heron?

The Japanese night heron is a small species of night heron that belongs to the family of Ardeidae under the genus Gorsachius.

What class of animal does a Japanese night heron belong to?

The Japanese night heron (Gorsachius goisagi) falls under the class of Aves and belongs to the Gorsachius genus.

How many Japanese night herons are there in the world?

The estimated global population range of living mature Japanese night herons is 5,000-9,999. The conservation status of the Japanese night heron is Vulnerable.

Where does a Japanese night heron live?

The Japanese night heron distribution primarily lives in Japan. However, some studies also have records of them breeding in Taiwan, China. In spring and summer, the Japanese night heron migrates to Russia and South Korea. Their ideal breeding place map in winter is usually in the Philippines, though it has been recorded as one of the non-breeding visitors of Indonesia.

What is a Japanese night heron's habitat?

These species prefer to live and breed in heavily forested areas that include broadleaved coniferous, and degraded forests. The Japanese night heron habitat distribution includes hilltops as well as, the lower slopes of mountains with an elevation range of up to 4,921.3 ft (1,500 m), with damp areas and watercourses. Their wintering areas often map around dark and deep shaded forests near the water with up to 7,874 ft (2,400 m) elevation range.

Who do Japanese night herons live with?

Japanese night herons are very social birds and often nest in groups. Like other species of night herons, such as the little blue heron, the Japanese night herons too, show their solitary nature only while hunting and or in search of food. It is very common to find multiple nests of this species on the same tree as they build their colonies in order to stay together and for breeding.

How long does a Japanese night heron live?

The average lifespan of Japanese night herons is about three years. They do not usually survive longer than that, because they get predated by Siberian weasels and crows.

Deforestation and continuous increase in wood harvesting are also major reasons behind the short life span of these birds.

How do they reproduce?

Though there has been only one record that suggests that these birds breed in Taiwan, they are usually found breeding in Japan. The Japanese night heron male builds their nests high up on oak, cedar, and cypress trees in their habitat.

The breeding season continues from May to July, during which the Japanese night heron female birds lay a maximum of three eggs. These eggs are then incubated on the flimsy nest built by the breeding couple. The incubation period lasts for about three days and after the Japanese night heron eggs hatch the breeding couple leaves for seven to nine hours in search of food for the chicks. The newly born chicks take up to 20-25 days to fully grow and eventually leave their nests.

What is their conservation status?

The IUCN Red List, considers the conservation status of the Japanese night heron Vulnerable, with a gradual decline in their population trend, due to deforestation and the continuous practice of cutting down trees.

According to the IUCN Red List, they are already marked and protected in Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan in their natural habitat, while other conservatory actions will soon be implemented for the conservation of this nearly endangered species.

Japanese Night Heron Fun Facts

What do Japanese night herons look like?

The Japanese night heron is a small rare species of night heron. They are covered in chestnut brown feathers and have a reddish-brown head and neck with black streaks coming down from their breast and foreneck. They also have a distinctively stout bill. Besides their chestnut-brown upper part, their wings are covered in fine black feathers.

The juvenile chick is slightly different from an adult. It has a black crown and a less rufous head. Both of them have a yellowish eye color.

A Japanese and Malayan night heron has a great resemblance to each other. They both have a relatively short bill and are brown overall. Both of them also have a dark line that starts from their neck and goes till their upper belly. However, the Malayan night heron is slightly bigger than the Japanese night heron.

Japanese night heron breeding season continues from May to July.

How cute are they?

Though these birds are not considered very cute, they do have a very appealing appearance. Their rufous head, and yellow eyes distinct them from another night heron.

How do they communicate?

The Japanese night heron has a very low call, which they usually use to communicate with each other. The male bird also uses certain displays in order to attract a female bird during the mating season. They also use a barking call as a signal of distress or when they are disturbed.

How big is a Japanese night heron?

Compared to a green heron, which is 16.1-18.1 in (41-46 cm) long, a Japanese night heron which has an average length of 16.9-18.5 in (43-47 cm) appears to be of the same size. However, if compared to a gray heron with an approximate length of 33.1-40.2 in (84-102 cm), the Japanese night heron appears to be almost twice as small.

How fast can a Japanese night heron fly?

Though the exact flying speed of a Japanese night heron is unknown, records show that on average a night heron can fly at a speed of 35 mph (56.3 kph).

How much does a Japanese night heron weigh?

On average a mature Japanese night heron weighs up to 17.6-19.4 oz (500-550 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Unfortunately, these rare species have no specific names allotted separately for the male and female birds.

What would you call a baby Japanese night heron?

A Japanese night heron baby is generally referred to as a chick or a juvenile.

What do they eat?

As this species is carnivorous, they are found feeding on various things. They use their bill to prey on insects. The diet of this species of birds usually includes snails and earthworms from grounds, while they are living in heavily forested areas. Sometimes, due to the diverse breeding range of this species, they are also found feeding on small crabs and small fishes while they are a resident in places near shallow waters.

Are they dangerous?

This species of night heron is not considered to be dangerous at all. According to records, only the great blue heron is capable of hurting people with its bill, when disturbed or provoked.

Would they make a good pet?

The Japanese night heron is a very social bird and prefers to live in its own colonies. As they already have a very short life span, debarring them from their colonies and keeping them captive will shorten their life span.

Did you know...

The whole global population of these birds is mainly nocturnal or crepuscular by nature, but some records suggest that they also come out in the morning, usually when the weather is cloudy.

They are called night herons for their nocturnal nature.

A group of herons collectively are referred to as a hedge, a battery, or a pose.

Are Japanese night herons endangered?

According to the IUCN Red List, the population trend of this species is gradually declining, which makes the Japanese night heron endangered and vulnerable. The introduction of Siberian weasel and nest infestation of crows are also a major cause of this.

Deforestation, wood harvesting, housing, and urbanization is causing this species to constantly move to non-breeding areas. The life span of these birds is already very short and these threats are affecting the whole population and their conservation status.

What does heron symbolize in Japan?

The Japanese night heron is mainly a resident of Japan during the summer. Besides Japan, they often migrate to the Philippines and Hong Kong in the winters. The migration process starts after the breeding season as they leave Japan in a flock of 1,000 birds.

They tend to continue their migration in mixed flocks which include other species like the black-crowned night heron. During migration, it is often recorded that these birds overshoot their destination and instead reach the islands of Indonesia or the Palau islands.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable facts, check out these Andean flamingo interesting facts and reddish egret fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable types of birds coloring pages.

Second image by Kogado.

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