Nycticorax griseus (Linn.), Syst. Nat. i. p. 239 (1766) ; Dresser, vi. p. 269, pl. 402 ; Gould, B. of Gt. Brit. iv. pl. 26 ; Blanf. F. Brit. Ind. Birds, iv. p. 397 ; Saunders, p. 379 ; Lilford, vii. p. 32, pl. 11 ; N. nycticorax (Linn.), Syst. Nat. i. p. 235 (1766) ; (Naum.), ix. p. 139, Taf. 225 ; (Audubon), B. of Am. pl. 236 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. xxvi. p. 146 ; Ridgway, p. 133 ; N. europoeus, Steph, in Shaw’s Gen. Zool. xi. p. 609 (1819) ; Gould, B. of E. iv. p. 279.
Heron bihoreau, French ; Goraz, Portug. ; Garza gris, Garza de noche, Span. ; Nitticora, Ital. ; Nachtreiher, German ; Kwak, Dutch ; Kwakwa, Russ. ; Kwak, Tar-bagla, Hindu. ; Ona-dze, Chinese ; Seguro-goi, Jap.
Male ad. (Malta). Forehead, a streak over the eye, cheeks, chin, throat, fore part of neck, breast, and abdomen white ; crown, nape, back, and scapulars black glossed with bottle-green ; several very long, white nuchal feathers ; sides of and hind neck, wings, rump, tail, and flanks ashy dove- grey ; bill blackish ; lores and orbital space yellowish green ; legs dull ochreous ; iris deep red. Culmen 3.0, wing 11.4, tail 4.7. tarsus 3.05 inch. Female similar. In winter the long nuchal white feathers are wanting. The young bird is brown above, the crown and nape striped, the back and wing-coverts with triangular spots of buffy white ; under parts white streaked with brown ; quills and tail ashy brown tipped with white.
Hab. Central and southern Europe ; straying to the British Islands, Denmark, and south Sweden, but has occurredas farnorth as the Faeroes ; Africa generally ; Asia as far east generally as Japan, north to Manchuria, south to the Moluccas ; America except in the high north ; the Sandwich Islands.
Is chiefly nocturnal in its habits, during the day remaining hidden in some densely foliaged tree, and at the approach of dusk starting off in search of its food, which consists of fish, aquatic insects, worms, and crabs. Its flight is soft and noiseless like that of an owl, and its note is a harsh croak, kwak, which is seldom uttered except at night. It is as a rule a breeder on trees, constructing a flat nest of twigs and small branches lined with leaves of aquatic plants, rootlets, &c. Its eggs, 4 to 5 in number, are usually deposited in April or May, and are uniform pale greenish blue, glossless, and measure about 2.5 by 1.41.
800. Nycticorax griseus