Crown, back, and scapulars, black, glossed with green: under parts white.
A. Nycticorax, Temm. Man. d'Orn. torn. 11. p. 577. Night-Heron, Mont. Orn. Diet. Selb. Illust. vol. II. p. 39. pls. 7,& 7*. Bew. Brit. Birds, vol. II. p. 14.
Entire length twenty-one inches: length of the bill (from the forehead) two inches eight lines, (from the gape) three inches eight lines; of the tarsus two inches eleven lines; of the naked part of the tibia ten lines; of the middle toe, claw included, three inches one line and a half; from the carpus to the end of the wing twelve inches.
(Adult). Crown of the head, nape, upper part of the back, and scapulars, black glossed with green: occiput ornamented with three very narrow white feathers, measuring six or seven inches in length: lower part of the back, wings, and tail, of a fine pearl-gray: forehead, a narrow streak above the eye, throat, and all the under parts, pure white; bill black, yellowish at the base: lore and orbits green: irides deep orange: feet yellowish green. (Young of the year). Without the long subulate feathers on the occiput: upper part of the head, nape, back, and scapulars, dull brown, with longitudinal streaks of yellowish white, one in the middle of each feather: throat white, spotted with brown; feathers on the sides and fore part of the neck, yellowish, broadly edged with brown; rest of the under parts variegated with brown, white, and ash-colour; middle of the belly whitish: wing-coverts, and primary quills, cinereous brown, with large pisciform yellowish white spots at the tips of the feathers: culmen and tip of the bill dusky brown, the remaining portion greenish yellow: irides brown: feet olivaceous brown. (Egg). Pale blue: long. diam. two inches three lines; trans, diam. one inch nine lines.
Very rare in this country. Has been killed in Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and, in more than one instance, near London. Common in the South of Europe; inhabiting the borders of rivers and lakes where there is covert. Feeds on fish, reptiles, worms, etc. Said to build on the ground, and to lay three or four eggs. Obs. The Ardea Gardeni of Gmelin and Latham is the young of the year of this species. The supposed A. Cayennensis, recorded by Mr Youell to have been taken near Yarmouth, May 23, 1824, (Linn. Trans, vol. xiv. p. 588). is probably only a variety of the common Night-Heron, having double the usual number of long occipital feathers.