Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Hey guys, welcome back. Today, the yellow-crowned night heron. Unlike it’s black-crowned cousin, which we talked about a while back, the yellow-crowned prefers salt and brackish waters. As such, they are found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, although their breeding range does extend inland throughout the Mississippi River Valley up to around St. Louis, as well as isolated pockets throughout Appalachia and the Great Lakes. In late summer and early fall, they tend to wander even further north and west.

Yellow-crowned Nigth Heron1
Yellow-crowned night heron at the salt marsh, Randall’s Island, NY

Despite the name night heron, the yellow-crowned night heron isn’t as strictly crepuscular as the black-crowned and can be actively foraging throughout the day. They tend to eat primarily crustaceans, and their breeding time along the Atlantic coast is largely determined by the local crabs’ breeding time which can vary depending on temperature. They are unmistakable herons in adult plumage, sporting an almost purplish gray body, highly contrasting black and white face pattern, and pale yellow crown with long plumes.

First one I ever saw was one of a nesting pair on NYC’s Governor’s Island, a small island in New York Harbor that is home to historic sites, a park, and the occasional concert and music festival. If I rode my bike to Central Park from Queens, I would often see one or two in the salt marsh on Randall’s Island on my way to and/or from work. I haven’t yet seen one in Ohio, but they do show up along Lake Erie from time to time, so perhaps I can add one to my Ohio list this year. Next up we head over to the flycatcher family for a flycatcher that’s deceptively easy to ID. See you then!

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