Wildlife Journal Junior!
New Hampshire PBS

Home       |       Wild Files       |       N.H. Animals       |       Animals A-Z       |       Watch Online

Yellow-crowned Night Heron - Nyctanassa violacea

Great Blue Heron


 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Ciconiiformes
 Family: Ardeidae
 Genus: Nyctanassa

ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern


Yellow-crowned Night heron The yellow-crowned night heron is a short, stocky wading bird about 24 inches in length with a wingspan of a little under 4 feet.

It has long yellow to orange legs, red eyes, a black bill, and a short neck. It has a slate gray body, a black head with a white streak on the side of its face, and a yellowish-white crown. In breeding season, it has a yellow plume of feathers on its head. Males and females look alike. Immature yellow-crowned night herons are a mottled grayish-brown.


mapThe yellow-crowned night heron breeds from southern New England south to Florida and west to Texas.

It also breeds along the Mississippi River. It is also found in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.


Yellow-crowned Night heronThe yellow-crowned night heron lives in wooded swamps, fresh and saltwater marshes, and thickets.



Yellow-crowned Night heron The yellow-crowned night heron forages for food both in the day and at night. Most of the yellow-crowned night heron's diet is made up of crustaceans like crabs and crayfish. It sometimes eats fish, eels, mussels, frogs, tadpoles, aquatic insects, snails, and small snakes. It either stands and waits for its prey to swim by or wades in the shallow water and slowly stalks its prey.

Life Cycle

Yellow-crowned Night heronThe female lays 3-5 eggs on a nest of sticks placed in a tree or sometimes on the ground. Both the male and female build the nest and incubate the eggs. The eggs hatch in about 3 weeks. Both parents care for the chicks and feed them regurgitated food. The chicks fledge when they are about 25 days old.


The yellow-crowned night heron is more solitary than other herons. It prefers to nest separately from other birds.

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Robin Carter cc logo