Japanese Night Heron

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Common Name: Japanese Night Heron
Scientific Name: Gorsachius goisagi

Size: 19 ΒΌ inches (49 cm)

Habitat: Asia; Japan (some sightings in South Korea, China, Taiwan and Russia). It breeds in heavily forested areas, including coniferous, broadleaved and degraded forest, on hills and on the lower slopes of mountains (up to 1,500 m), where there are watercourses and damp areas. It winters in dark, deeply shaded forest near water up to 2,400 m.

Status: Endangered. Global population: 1,000-2,499 with a declining trend. The main threat is deforestation in both its breeding and non-breeding ranges. The development of dense scrub undergrowth in forest and on abandoned farmland (following a change in traditional agricultural practices) is believed to reduce the suitability of these habitats for feeding. It has probably been hunted in many parts of its range. It declined rapidly on Miyake-jima in the Izu Islands, where it was formerly abundant; following the introduction of Siberian weasel Mustela sibirica in the early 1970s. Today nest predation by Corvids is an increasing threat as crow populations increase in urban and suburban areas. It is legally protected in Japan and Hong Kong.

Diet: Earthworms are probably the principal food source, but land snails, crabs, ground and scarabid beetles are all present in its diet. It forages mainly in forest, but will use swamps, rice-fields and farmland and is mainly crepuscular.

Nesting: Juvenile has blackish crown, less rufous on head, more streaked neck and paler wing-coverts. Breeding has been recorded from April to July1.

Cool Facts: This species has been recorded in all parts of Japan (including Hokkaido, where it is very rare), but it is only known to breed in Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu and on the Izu islands.

Found in Songbird ReMix Shorebirds Volume II: Herons and Bitterns

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