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Yellow-crowned Night Heron

 

Yellow-crowned Night Herons are the mimes among birds. They stand immobile as statues for long stretches before taking slow, deliberate, almost theatrical steps, foraging for crabs and crawfish at the edge of ponds and streams. They’re out early in the morning sometimes but otherwise live up to the “night” in their name.
llow-crowned Night Heron
NYCTANASSA VIOLACEA
• Length: 24 inches
• Wingspan: 42 inches
• Season: Year-round
More about Yellow-crowned Night Herons.
Where they are, and when.
They’re slender birds with slate gray plumage, bright red eyes and dusky yellow legs. The feathers on their darker back and wings are outlined in a light gray. A stout bill protrudes from a black head with white cheek bands, a yellowish crown and a long thin white plume topping it off.

Juveniles, which can look a little gangly when their necks are stretched out, are brown and gray with a streaked brown neck and chest. They are similar to the juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron, which is larger, has more of a pointed yellowish bill and large white spots on its wings.

They frequent coastal wetlands, wooded swamps, upland forest, lakes and rivers, even those near residential communities. They swallow small prey whole, but will shake apart, crush, or spear larger crustaceans. When not feeding, they roost quietly in trees or shrubs.

Yellow-crowned Night Herons nest in solitude or with a small group of other herons. They built substantial nests of sticks, twigs and leaves – often high in trees – and lay three to five pale blue-green eggs.

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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