The Black-Crowned Night Heron

The fact that, besides fish, this heron feeds on other bird’s eggs makes it a prime target for harassment. This behavior forces it to forage mainly after dark when other species are sleeping – hence the name Night Heron. It will usually rest in good cover in the daytime. A very patient fisher, it will stand motionless for hours in shallow water or on the bank to ambush any fish that’s passing by. Its secretiveness makes it a difficult species to view. Any photos that we have of this bird are the result of luck.

This species is the most widespread heron in the world (on 5 continents). It is rather short and stocky for a heron – standing only 23 to 28 inches tall, with a 20 inch long body, and a 45 inch wing span. Red eyes, yellow legs, and a black bill are other field identification traits.

Nests are constructed in thickets and occasionally in trees and, like all herons, in a colony with other birds of its species. Males construct the nests, which are used year after year. Breeding season is heralded by the lengthening of head plumes and much preening of one’s mate. The bill is rubbed repeatedly over the partner’s head, neck, and back. Three to five eggs are laid each year and need a 24 to 26 day incubation period. Both birds will sit on the eggs. The young are fed regurgitated food, fledge at 6 to 7 weeks, and take three years to mature. Juvenile breasts are speckled, which make them easy to be mistaken as Bitterns.

Night Herons are being affected by loss of habitat. The reason: the habitat they favor is also great mosquito breeding grounds – hence the draining of wetlands. Market Lake and Camas Refuge, both north of Roberts, Idaho; along with the Bear River Refuge west of Brigham City, Utah are locations where you might see this

Black-Crowned Night Heron Feeling secure amid the foliage

Feeling secure amid the foliage

Night Sounds

An owl’s soft call speaks plainly now.
He talks so hauntingly.
The cool night breeze wafts it forth.
It resounds from tree to tree.

The crunch of jaws, upon something hard –
Adds mystery to the night.
Where is it at? What might it be?
It’s somewhere near but out of sight.

The rustling leaves, by creatures small –
That scurry to and fro.
They all cause questions to arise.
What are they? I’d like to know.

Off in the distance, such a plaintive howl –
Emotions it subtly wrenches!
A lone Coyote that sounds so sad –
Reaches deep into my senses.

I lie in the dark. Sleep will not come.
As sounds, whether loud or small –
Excite my thoughts at what’s out there.
I wonder about it all.