Bird: Black-Crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Height: 25"

Description: A medium size stocky heron with a short neck and short yellow legs that turn orange during breeding season. Has a black back, a black cap on head, and grayish wings. Under parts are white. The eye is red. The beak is shorter than most herons and is dark. Immature bird is brown overall with some white streaking. Shape of bird is same as adult. Beak is yellow with black tip. Legs and feet are yellow. The immature plumage is kept into the third year. Yellow-crowned Night Heron is similar but can be distinguished by a light yellow cap on head. Face of Yellow-crowned is all dark with white patch behind eye.

Voice: A short barked, "kwok" is heard year-round at dusk. Other calls are heard during breeding. Audio is available at

Black-Crowned Night-Heron 2

Feeding: Feeds mostly at night and is generally inactive during the day. Is not a very active hunter, and generally waits quietly until fish or frogs pass within striking distance. Is widely reported to raid the nests of other birds for chicks.

Behavior at Wakodahatchee: Since the park opens at dawn and closes at dusk, Night-Herons are rarely seen and they are usually observed sleeping. There is an adult and an immature Black-crowned Night Heron that is infrequently seen in the mornings by the third Gazebo. Night Herons are more common on the Western coast of the state where they are frequently seen during the day in the winter roosting in the Mangrove trees.

Black-Crowned Night-Heron 3
Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Click here for more information on the Black-crowned Night-heron from

Click here for more information on the Yellow-crowned Night-heron from

Black-Crowned Night-Heron 1

This is a photograph of the adult Black-crowned Night Heron at Wakodahatchee. Notice the two-tone bill, which may be a sign that this bird is still young. The immature plumage is kept into the third year, so three is a good guess at the age of this bird. Also notice the long plumes on the back of the head. This is part of the breeding plumage.

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