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I need help identifying this bird. (Some sort of heron?)

It was seen in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in September.

It is very common there. It can also swim like a duck, but I've only seen it do this once (it's not something they commonly do). I can supply more photos upon request.

These are two different individuals:

enter image description here

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ I'd also be grateful for tips on websites I could use to look up these birds. Most of what I can find is for North-America only, and I'm having a hard time finding Chinese birds. $\endgroup$ – Szabolcs Sep 30 '14 at 3:59
  • $\begingroup$ My two guesses were Striated heron or Night heron, as the juveniles of both look similar to this. But I haven't seen any birds that would look like the adults of either species. $\endgroup$ – Szabolcs Sep 30 '14 at 6:01
  • $\begingroup$ juvenile night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) INDEED good pics, cheers $\endgroup$ – have fun Oct 31 '14 at 18:19
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I'd go with juvenile striated heron. I ruled out others such as the chinese pond heron because of the spotted wing plumage and slightly different shape of the patch around the eye. The night heron seems to have a more red eye than the striated heron and appears to have a stubbier beak.

Arkive is a good place to see a lot of pictures of birds, this is a good birding site, and otherwise I use generic google searching (e.g. start with "herons china" or "herons asia") - this at least helps narrow down the search quite substantially and is considerably cheaper than having a library of the worlds bird books!

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  • $\begingroup$ It does look very similar to the juvenile of the striated heron (so +1), but how would you explain that all the birds I saw were like this? (I have tens of photos of several individuals so I don't have to rely on my memory.) Could they all be juveniles, with no adults around? $\endgroup$ – Szabolcs Sep 30 '14 at 10:15
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Based on some external advice, I believe it might be a juvenile night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), the only remaining question being why I didn't see any adults.

Link to Google Image search results

Update: I went back to the same location today and saw some adult night herons, which convinced me that these were juveniles of the same species.

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