The herons are long-legged, long-necked, freshwater and coastal birds in the family Ardeidae, with 64 recognised species, some of which are referred to as egrets or bitterns rather than herons. Members of the genera Botaurus and Ixobrychus are referred to as bitterns, and, together with the zigzag heron, or zigzag bittern, in the monotypic genus Zebrilus, form a monophyletic group within the Ardeidae. Egrets do not form a biologically distinct group from herons, and tend to be named differently because they are mainly white or have decorative plumes in breeding plumage. Herons, by evolutionary adaptation, have long beaks.
Black-crowned Night Heron |
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
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IUCN Red List Assessment, Nycticorax nycticorax
Systems Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine Threats The species is threatened by wetland drainage and destruction (del Hoyo et al. 1992; Kushlan and Hancock 2005) and by drought in wintering areas (Hafner and Kushlan 2002).