Observations of the courtship display of a White-Backed Night Heron from South Africa

  • Dominic P Rollinson
  • Patrick L Rollinson


The White-backed Night Heron (Gorsachius leuconotus) is a rare, nocturnal and secretive species which inhabits slow-flowing perennial rivers with sufficient overhanging vegetation. Throughout southern Africa it occurs mostly along the east coast as far south as Knysna, Western Cape (Hockey et al. 2005). It is known from a number of localities in northern South Africa and occurs along most major rivers in the Kruger National Park (Chittenden and Whyte 2009). However due to its secretive and nocturnal habits, very little is known of the biology of this species. An exhaustive search of the literature could not produce any formal description of its courtship display and thus our observations from Marloth Park, Mpumalanga are described here.


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