Black-crowned Night-Heron: Medium-sized stocky heron with short neck and legs, black upperparts, gray wings and white to pale gray underparts. Bill is stout and black, eyes are red and legs are yellow. Sexes are similar. Female is smaller and lighter; has shorter plumes. Breeding adult develops long white plumes on back of head and red legs. Non-breeding adult has a duller cap and back, lacks nuchal plumes. Juvenile has brown white-streaked upperparts, white brown-streaked underparts and yellow-green legs.
Range and Habitat
Black-crowned Night-Heron: Breeds in parts of southcentral Canada throughout the U.S. (except Rocky Mountain region) to southern South America. Spends winters in southern half of U.S. Preferred habitats include swamps, streams, rivers, marshes, mud flats, and the edges of lakes that have become overgrown with rushes and cattails.
Breeding and Nesting
Black-crowned Night Heron: During the breeding season, the male establishes a territory and performs a variety of displays to attract a female. One to seven pale blue to green eggs are laid in a flimsy platform lined with roots and grass which is built near the trunk of a tree or in branches. They usually nest in colonies. Incubation ranges from 21 to 26 days and is carried out by both parents.
Foraging and Feeding
Black-crowned Night-Heron: These herons are opportunistic foragers with a varied diet including fish, leeches, earthworms, insects, crayfish, mussels, squid, amphibians, lizards, snakes, rodents, birds, eggs, carrion, plant materials and garbage at landfills. Usually they feed in the evening or early morning. Typically they are solitary foragers that strongly defend their feeding territory.
Black-crowned Night-Heron: Call is a loud, barking "kowak" or "quawk" oftern heard at night or at dusk. In nesting colonies, utters a variety of croaks, barks, and other harsh calls. Also produces buzzes and hisses.
Black-crowned Night-Heron: Adult Rufous Night-Heron has warm brown upperparts, and yellow irises. Juvenile Rufous Night-Heron is the only Nycticorax in this range.