The White-eared Night Heron (Gorsachius magnificus) got its name from not only its appearance, but also its preference for nocturnal activity- this bird is primarily active at night time and rarely ventures from its roosting site prior to sunset. The White-eared Night Heron was first discovered in the 1890s on Hainan Island, Wuzhi Shan, Qiongzhong County, China (Fellowes et al 2001). Since then, confirmed records of white-eared night heron have been sparse and scattered throughout China and Vietnam. From 2004-2006 the largest population was documented in the Thousand Island Region in southeast China (Li et. al. 2007). In 1988, Gorsachius magnificus was catagorized as a threatened species, and by 1994 it was declared to be a critically endangered species by the IUCN. This label lasted until 2000 when the category was changed to endangered, as it has remained until present. Currently, little is known about the global species abundance, but it is considered to be endangered verging on critically endangered.
A white wedge-shape patch extending from the eye gives the species its name. These are smaller herons, with males only getting to be about 55cm tall and females are even smaller. Being located near streams, rice fields, and marshes these herons mostly feed on small fish, shrimp, and other invertebrates (Birdlife Species Champion, 2012). During night they like to forage singly or in isolated pairs near the ground (IUCN-SSC Heron Specialist Group, 2011).
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