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White-backed Night Heron - BirdForum Opus

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Calherodius leuconotus

Gorsachius leuconotus

Photo by Steve G
Photo taken: Makasutu, The Gambia.


Black head, short thick crest, large white patch and yellow skinned eye ring, black bill, yellow lower base, yellow iris, green-yellow lores, white chin, rufous brown neck, black-brown back, brown upper wings, slate flight feathers, black brown tail, buff underparts, white-brown belly, green to orange legs and feet.


Sub-Saharan Africa. Patchy distribution from Senegal to Sudan and south to eastern South Africa but exact range is unknown. The range extends east through the equatorial belt and south into Mozambique and South Africa.



Two subspecies are recognized[1].


These birds favour densely vegetated freshwater lagoons, slow rivers and (especially in The Gambia) tall Rhizophora mangroves.


The birds become active at dusk being ambush predators which stab at passing fish from perches just above the water. This species roosts singly or in small groups inside creeper-clad vegetation or dense mangroves where they sit motionless unless closely approached. If disturbed they tend to climb higher into the canopy before flying off.

The diet includes small fish, amphibians, molluscs, crustaceans, flying ants, flies and other insects.

The nest is a stick platform, usually well hidden and built low over water in trees or bushes. 3-8 eggs are laid.


  1. Clements, J. F., P. C. Rasmussen, T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, A. Spencer, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2023. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2023. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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GSearch checked for 2020 platform.