The Malayan night heron, Gorsachius melanolophus (Raffles, 1822), is an odd-looking night heron species of the family Ardeidae and order Pelecaniformes. It is a reddish-brown, medium-sized bird with a black crown and underparts with streaks. This heron is also known by other names, such as the tiger bittern and the Malaysian night heron. It has two recognized subspecies: G. m. melanolophus (Raffles, 1822) and G. m. minor(Hachisuka, 1926).
The Malaysian night heron has extensive breeding and resident range that includes India, China, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia. Plus, wintering populations of the species are found in Sri Lanka, Japan, Indonesia, and the Thai-Malay Peninsula. The natural habitat of the birds includes dense and moist tropical and subtropical forests, marshes, swamps, and streams of the low wetlands to secondary scrubs, reservoirs, and evergreen forests of moderate elevations. Members of the species are solitary nocturnal foragers preying on insects, earthworms, mollusks, frogs, lizards, and occasionally small fish.
Do you find these herons interesting? Then read on to know more about this amazing heron species!
The Malayan night heron (Gorsachius melanolophus) is a medium-sized species of heron found in eastern and southern Asia. It belongs to the family Ardeidae and the order Pelecaniformes.
The Malayan night heron (Gorsachius melanolophus) belongs to the class of birds.
According to assessments by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the total population size of the Malayan night heron is about 1,300-13,000 individuals.
From the Malayan night heron range map, it is evident that the species has a large range in southern and eastern Asian regions. The breeding range of the species includes India, the Nicobar Islands, Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, South China, and Japan. The non-breeding range of the species spreads across west India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, South China, Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines. Wintering populations of the species are common in Japan, the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.
The Malayan night heron (Gorsachius melanolophus) is found in areas of high rainfall. Its habitat includes moist tropical and subtropical forests, marshes, streams, and swamps of the low wetlands to secondary scrubs, reservoirs, and evergreen forests of moderate altitudes. The birds are common in reed beds during migration and are often found in human environments such as vegetable gardens, pastures, and flooded rice fields.
The Malayan night heron (Gorsachius melanolophus) is a solitary and territorial heron species.
The lifespan estimate of the Malayan night heron is not available. Another night heron species, the black-crowned night heron of the genus Nycticorax, lives for about 20 years.
The breeding season of the Malayan night heron differs with the geographical region where a population resides. For example, birds resident in southwest India breed during May-August, whereas the resident birds of Taiwan breed during April-September. The species nests in tall trees and bamboo of lowland forests and also in reed beds. The breeding nest is usually near water. Although the birds are solitary in nature, the adult birds often nest close together in colonies, with numbers reaching up to 20 nests. Solitary nesting is also observed. Both members of a breeding pair participate in nest-building, which is usually a small and delicate platform of sticks lined with grass and leaves and hidden away amidst tree branches.
The female bird usually lays a clutch comprising three to five eggs, chalky white in color with a tinge of green or blue. Both parents incubate the eggs for about 32-34 days. After the eggs hatch, the juvenile birds take about 43 days to fledge. Along with the parents, the juvenile birds also participate in feeding the newborns. A description of this heron's courtship behavior and nesting biology is not available.
As per the IUCN Red List, the conservation status of the Malayan night heron (Gorsachius melanolophus) is a species of Least Concern. Even though their global population trend is unknown, the birds do not fulfill the criteria for a Vulnerable species status.
As per the field description of the Malayan night heron, the adult bird has a reddish-brown or chestnut brown plumage and a black crown. The adult birds also have black underwings, a black stripe running between the throat and the breast, and underparts with streaks. Breeding members of the species have a bright blue patch of skin present between the eyes and the bill; this bright blue facial patch is dull in non-breeding individuals and yellowish in juvenile birds.
The Malayan night heron may look similar to the Japanese night heron, but the two heron species differ in several aspects. For example, the Malayan night heron is reddish-brown with a black crown and white-tipped outer wings, whereas the Japanese night heron has a dark plumage with tawny-tipped wings. Also, the bill of the Malayan species is longer and thinner. The underparts of both species have streaks.
The juvenile Malayan night herons have a dark brown and white, prominently barred and spotted plumage. The crown is blackish, barred, and spotted white, and the bill is short and downward arching. The back and wings have fine black and white spots, and the underparts are mottled.
The Malayan night heron is not conventionally cute. It is rather odd-looking with squat and thick proportions and is quite easy to spot in the field.
When in flight, the typical Malayan night heron call sounds like arh-arh-arh and a low-pitched kwok. The song of the bird is a deep, repetitive, and mournful series of thuk-thuk-thuk-thuk or wu-wu-wu notes.
An adult Malayan night heron may range in length between 17.7-19.3 in (45-49 cm). Plus, the Malayan night heron wingspan is between 34-34.2 in (86-87 cm). The species is larger than the yellow-crowned night heron of the genus Nyctanassa and the family Ardeidae. Green herons are of a size similar to that of the Malayan night heron.
The flight speed of the Malayan night heron is not available. However, the black-crowned night heron is reported to attain flight speeds of around 34 mph (55 kph).
An adult Malayan night heron weighs between 0.83-0.99 lb (377-450 g).
In general, male and female night herons do not have distinct names. Hence, the terms Malayan night heron male and Malayan night heron female are used.
A baby Malayan night heron would be called a chick, nestling, fledgling, or simply a juvenile.
The food of Malayan night herons mainly includes insects such as beetles. Besides, the birds also feed on large earthworms, mollusks, lizards, frogs, and sometimes small fish.
Being a territorial species, night herons may get aggressive when defending their nests.
Since the Malayan night heron is a wild and territorial bird, it is not wise to make pets out of them. Besides, these are forest-dwelling birds with specific habitat requirements and are not at all suitable for a domestic environment.
Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.
A group of herons has many collective names, such as siege, scattering, sedge, and hedge.
The Malayan night herons are not endangered. They are a species of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List.
Yes, the night herons are nocturnal, and they are named so because of their night-time feeding habits.
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