Black-crowned Night Heron - Nycticorax nycticorax
The black-crowned night heron is 23-28 inches tall. It has a wingspan of almost four feet. It is a medium-sized heron with a stocky body and short legs and a short neck. It has a black crown and back, gray wings, and a white underside.
The black-crowned night heron breeds from Washington; Saskatchewan, Canada; Minnesota; and New Brunswick, Canada south to southern South America. It is not found in the Rocky Mountain region. It winters in the southern United States. Migration happens in large flocks and almost always at night.
The black-crowned night heron hunts for food in the early morning hours and at dusk. It stands and waits for prey like frogs and fish to pass by and then snatches them up with its bill. It sometimes raids the nests of other herons and birds and steals the chicks. It also eats amphibians, crustaceans, insects and small mammals.
The female black-crowned night heron lays three to five eggs in a nest in reeds, in a thicket, or occasionally, in a tree. The nest is made of sticks and twigs. The chicks hatch in 24-26 days. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the chicks regurgitated food. Black-crowned night herons nest in colonies and often nest with other bird like ibises and other herons. The chicks fledge in 42-49 days.
Male night herons use their nests to attract a mate. The same nest may be used for many years.
Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Miguel Angel Roda