Thursday, June 17, 2010

Give Me The Night Life! The Mickey Mouse Stalker: Black-Crowned Night Heron

This Black-crowned Night Heron is a good example of why it sometimes pays to be a late in the day birder, as I am. It's not a bird one would be likely to see in the middle of the day, but rather at night, as its moniker suggests. It's mostly nocturnal, like me. After all the other birds have gone to bed and said their prayers, this one starts hunting. It hangs around in shallow ponds, standing for long periods waiting to skewer frogs and fish. The Black-crowned Night heron is about twenty-five inches tall and semi-migratory. It generally needs open water for fishing, so from here, they go to the southeastern seaboard for the winter. This one lives in an alder swamp right near our house. The body of water is no more than a tangled mess of growth host to mosquitoes and barely noticeable unless one is a birder. This bird is sporting its breeding plumage. See that natty white plume rakishly worn on its head? Like a lot of herons, this guy nests in colonies in trees with other waders, like Snowy egrets. They aren't quite as sociable as the other waders, though and will usually nest on the periphery of the colony. From that vantage point, they also scout out chicks in other nests in the colony for a nighttime 'fridge' raid. That's right: they readily eat offspring of other birds, especially their housing project neighbors, gulls and terns. Sometimes, they can been seen in meadows where there are lots of rodents, like voles. Night-herons will stalk Mickey Mouse, too! Nonetheless, I think they are pretty cool to look at even though they are barfly thugs of the night.

For more information about Black-crowned Night Herons, click here:
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black-crowned_Night-Heron/lifehistory




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5 comments:

  1. Wonderful photos Robin!

    I haven't been down there yet to check it out. Hopefully this weekend. Studying for an exam all week.

    John

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  2. Love the night heron.I have never seen one. Thanx awfully.
    bmc

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  3. Great photos and post, Robin. Their fierce red eyes gives them away as marauders.

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  4. Beautiful photos of the red eye devil!
    HG

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  5. Your photos of the Black Crowned Night Heron are terrific, and your commentary is always enlightening. Keep up the good work, and don't forget to throw some lurid details, just to keep us entertained.

    El Jefe

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