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Black-crowned Night-Heron

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Black-crowned Night-Herons are stocky birds with layers of blue and gray plumage, a black cap and a long, thin white plume that streams off the back of their necks. They often sit hunched over on their perch, leaning forward with their necks drawn in, similar to Green Herons.

Black-crowned Night-Heron
NYCTIORAX NYCTIORAX
• Length: 25 inches
• Wingspan: 44 inches
• Season: Year-round
More about Black-crowned Night Herons.
Where they are, and when.

True to their name, Black-crowned Night-Herons feed mostly at night and roost in trees during the day, though you’ll sometimes see them foraging early in the morning and at dusk. Fish dominate their diet, though they’ll eat frogs, crawfish and, sometimes, the eggs and chicks of other colonial birds.

The Black-crowned Night-Heron’s juvenile plumage lasts two years and looks similar to that of the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, except that its neck is heavier and the lower part of its bill is yellow.

They nest in colonies on the marsh or high up in the trees above. Over time, with reuse, their nests of reeds and sticks can become massive. They lay three to five, pale, blue-green eggs and may even raise the broods of other birds.

April 20, 2012

It was unusual to see a Black-Crowned Night-Heron foraging this late in the morning. By now they are typically ensconced in the trees. Perched on a small stump in the middle of the pond, it scrutinized the vegetation on top of the water for movement. Slowly and deliberately it adjusted its position, leaning over as far as it could to get a closer look. I watched it for quite a while – there’s no hurrying a heron – but it never even made a strike before flying off into the trees for a nap.

About Scott Clark

I’m a digital journalist who’s worked as a photographer, reporter, producer and editor. My interest in the natural history of my surroundings reaches back to my early days beachcombing on the Jersey coast, rowing my boat on a quiet lake in Missouri and, more recently, discovering the mountains and backwoods of Montana, where I was born.

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