Birds News

“Rare” Black-crowned Night Herons Breed in UK

Through proof via photos Black-crowned Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) are breeding in the UK for the first time — ever.

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Black-crowned Night Heron. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives.

Via photographic evidence Black-crowned Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) are breeding in the UK for the first time — ever.

The remarkable proof was captured by photographer Graham Hall in Somerset, South West England.

Two adults and two juveniles have taken up residence at Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Westhay Moore National Nature Reserve. You can see pictures of the Black-crowned Night Herons on the Trust’s Flickr Page.

Black-crowned Night Heron. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives.
Black-crowned Night Heron. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives.

Roger Dickey, Chairman, Somerset Ornithological Society, wrote on the Somerset Wildlife Trust’s website:

“This is obviously terribly exciting news.  Night Herons are one of southern England’s rarer summer visitors and only a dozen or so have been reported in Somerset since 1800. That they have decided to breed here for the first time on record is an event long overdue and confirms the Avalon Marshes’ significance as one of the UK’s most important breeding areas for Herons and Bitterns as well as other marshland birds. Prime breeding areas do not happen by accident and all organisations and individuals that help to manage this type of habitat are congratulated on their contribution to the ever expanding wetland breeding bird story in Somerset.”

The work and effort put forth by those who maintain and develop optimal breeding grounds for these waterbirds is only one part of the story. In an interview with the GuardianStephen Moss, the president of Somerset Wildlife Trust, stated that the other part is climate change.

Now, UK birders and ornithologists will have to wait to find out if Nycticorax nycticorax  will establish themselves in the UK permanently.

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives.
Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives.

Black-crowned Night Herons are crepuscular, meaning that they hunt a dusk and are active in the darker hours of a day. They roost in large groups and are not rare in the U.S. as they can be found across North America during their summer breeding season.

Marshland habitats are under siege due to global warm and sea-level rise. Marshland habitats provide valuable ecosystem services such as erosion prevention, water filtration, and habitat for sensitive species.

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