I spotted these two birds in Yellow Water, Kakadu NP. They were not in each other's vicinity, so it's not a pair in the sense that they were mates (not that I can tell at least :-).

Their appearance is quite similar, so I'm expecting they are the same species of bird. They look like egrets to me, which are common water fowl in the wetlands of Kakadu. However, they may in fact be different species altogether. One has these speckles on the wings, the other one doesn't, by the looks of it.

Can anyone help me ID these birds?

  • Where: Yellow Water Region in Kakadu NP, Northern Territory, Australia;
  • Size: Not too big, my guess is about 20 to 40 cm from beak to tip of the tail (about a foot or so);
  • When: Southern hemisphere's spring, early September; the end of the dry season;
  • Time of day: afternoon.

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1 Answer 1


I think these are most likely nankeen night heron (Nycticorax caledonicus). The only that does not fit is your size estimation. See the images (from here):

enter image description here

I think the first image shows a bird which still has parts of its juvenile feathers, which look pretty different (from here):

enter image description here

A lot of information about these birds can be found here and here.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ How. On. Earth. Can. You. Manage. To. Do. This. So. FAST? And so complete with the juvenile identified?! I've been searching for this for ages. :-) $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Apr 16, 2017 at 12:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The size estimate was rough. I gave a more proper range now. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Apr 16, 2017 at 13:06
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @AliceD Magic. Seriously: I had luck being around when the question popped up and finding the right bird relatively fast :-) $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Apr 16, 2017 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ @AliceD: what field guide do you use? The Slater field guide for Australia (publish.csiro.au/book/6145) is very good, as is the Australian Bird Guide (publish.csiro.au/book/6520/#author. Full disclaimer: my PhD supervisor is an author, but the plumage detail in ABG is stunning). $\endgroup$
    – bshane
    Apr 17, 2017 at 2:48

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