Chrissy Bowker of Texas asks, “What’s this animal?”
COMMON NAME: Yellow-crowned Night Heron
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Nyctanassa violacea; ORDER, Pelecaniformes
DIET: Mainly crustaceans, insects, and some types of fish. Occasionally, it may feed on small lizards, rodents, or other small birds.
SIZE: Average height, 25 inches; Wingspan, 44 inches
WEIGHT: Average weight, 1.65 pounds
HABITAT: Wetlands, marshes, bayous, shallow lake shores, mangroves, and seasonally flooded locations.
The bird in the picture above is none other than the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. They roost in trees during the day and do most of their hunting nocturnally, specializing on crustaceans. While at rest, their neck is short, stout, and tucked-in. When extended, their necks are long and slim. Because they are a wading bird, their legs are quite long, even extending beyond the tail while in flight. Its most notable characteristics are its glossy black head, standing in stark contrast to the pale-yellow horizontal stripes which wrap the cheeks and extend from the bill to the back of the head, running between the eyes, giving it the yellow crown for which it is named. It has a large, heavy, black-bill, perfect for breaking through the shells of crab and crayfish. Their eyes are a striking red-orange. Their body, in contrast to their head and legs, is a blue-grey color which appears in an almost scale-like pattern due to the small white edges.
Listen to their flight call here: