NATIVE. RARE. RESIDENT. MIGRANT.
DISTRIBUTION: Indonesia, New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Australia. Some vagrants occur in New Zealand.
HABITAT: Rivers, wetlands, estuaries, lakes and ponds.
BREEDING: Southern forms breed from September to February, and northern forms breed from March to April. Breeding in colonies, the Nankeen Heron builds a loosely-structured nest in trees close to water. Breeding birds have 2-3 long white feathers growing from their head.
FOOD: Like most herons, diet consists mainly of small fish, aquatic insects, frogs and reptiles.
GENERAL: A nocturnal species, it begins feeding at dusk. Two unsuccessful attempts were made at releasing them in New Zealand, once in Wellington in 1852, and a second banded breeding pair from Wellington Zoo in 1982. Occasionally unbanded birds are seen here, thought to be stragglers from Australia, however two young birds were thought to have bred in Blenheim in 1958. It is also thought that a small breeding colony may have established on the Wanganui River.