Malayan night heron

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The Malayan night heron (Gorsachius melanolophus) is a medium sized heron belonging to the family Ardeidae.

The Malayan night heron species is distributed in southern and eastern Asia and Indian Subcontinent. Breeding populations occur in India, Bangladesh, Taiwan, China and Philippines.

Taxonomy of Malayan night heron

  • Scientific Name: Gorsachius melanolophus
  • Common Name: Malayan night heron
  • French: Bihoreau malais German: Wellenreiher Spanish: Martinete malayo;
  • Other names: Ardea melanolopha Raffles, 1822; Gorsachius melanophus Collar and Andrew (1988); Malay night-heron; Malaysian night heron;
  • Family: Ardeidae › Pelecaniformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: Raffles, 1822

Gorsachius melanolophus is closely related to G. goisagi. The two recognized subspecies are: G. m. melanolophus (Raffles, 1922) and G. m. minor Hachisuka, 1926.
Indian birds - Malayan night heron - Image of Gorsachius melanolophus
Indian birds - Malayan night heron - Gorsachius melanolophus


The Malayan night heron species is a medium sized bird, measuring 45 to 50 cnm in length and weighing 350 to 450 grams. The wingspan is 80 to 85 cm.

The adult herons have reddish brown plumage with streaked underparts, black underwings and a black crown. The bare skin between the eyes and beak is blue, sometimes greenish blue. The crest of male Malayan heron is dark. The vocal call include "arh, arh" and “kwok”.


The Malayan night heron species inhabit wooded streams, marshes, swamps, ponds and lakes in subtropical and tropical regions.

Feeding habits

The Malayan night heron species feed on insects, frogs, invertebrates, crustaceans, molluscs, small reptiles and small fish.


In South India, these heron species breed during the rainy season. In Northeast India, they breed during October and November. They nest on the forest trees.


The subspecies G. m. melanolophus occurs in Southwest India, Northeast India, Bangladesh, East and South China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia and Philippines. Wintering populations occur in Sri Lanka, Malay Peninsula and Indonesia. The subspecies G. m. minor occur in Nicobar Islands in India.

Movement Patterns

The Malayan night heron species are partially migrant. The South Indian populations are observed to migrate to Sri Lanka.

Status and conservation

The global population of these heron species is estimated to be 2,000 to 20,000 individuals. The main threat in conservation is habitat loss.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these Malayan heron species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Gorsachius melanolophus
Species:G. melanolophus
Binomial name:Gorsachius melanolophus
Distribution:southern and eastern Asia, Indian Subcontinent, breeding in India, Taiwan, China, and the Philippines;
Feeding habits:crustaceans, aquatic insects, molluscs, small fish, frogs;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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