Family Herons (Ardeidae)


Japanese Night-heron (Gorsachius goisagi)


French: Bihoreau goisagi German: Rotscheitelreiher Spanish: Martinete japonés

Nycticorax goisagi


, 1836,



Probably most closely related to G. melanolophus. Monotypic.


Breeds in S Japan on Honshu, Shikoku and possibly Kyushu; recently found breeding in Jeju Is, S Korea#R; one breeding report from Taiwan, and has been recorded in spring and summer in Russia (Primorye and Sakhalin). Winters from Ryukyu Is to Philippines.

Descriptive notes

48–49 cm; 527·1 g (one male); wingspan 87–89 cm. Similar to G. melanolophus, but lacks black cap and long crest, has darker drabber brown head,... read more


Gives croaking “buo, buo” when feeding or at nest, slow, repetitive and somewhat owl-like, mainly... read more


Rivers and swamps in thickly forested areas, also farms and rice paddies and bamboo forest on... read more

Food and feeding

Very little known. Apparently mainly crabs and other crustaceans; also insects, ground and scarabid beetles, earthworms, snails, cicadas... read more


Very little known. Eggs recorded in May–Jun and Jul (latter perhaps second or replacement clutch). Solitary or in small groups. Nests... read more


Some birds sedentary, but vast majority of population seems to migrate S in Sept/Oct, returning in... read more

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. Overall population estimated at 600–1700 individuals within an overall range of 35,800 km², but this may be an underestimate. Only six confirmed... read more

Recommended citation

Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Japanese Night-heron (Gorsachius goisagi). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 February 2020).