Black-crowned Night Heron

On July 7th, a nestling Black-crowned Night Heron was brought into the clinic. He had a large wound on his head, likely caused by another bird. He was given an antibiotic, as well some pain medication to make him feel better. And better he felt!

It took no time at all for his alertness and survival instinct to kick in, giving us high hopes for his survival in the wild. He has a very healthy dislike of humans, which he will never fail to exemplify during feedings and cleanings. A loud “quak” followed by a hasty retreat but always with a steel gaze fixed upon the foreign human.

He is king of his space.

Like the juvenile heron at our center,  juveniles have dull grey-brown plumage on their heads, wings, and backs, with numerous pale spots. Their underparts are paler and streaked with brown. The young birds have orange eyes and duller yellowish-green legs.

When he grows up, he will look like this:

Black-crowned Night Herons nest in trees, or on protected ground such as islands or reed beds. They eat small fish, crustaceans, frogs, auquatic insects, and small mammals. They hunt by standing still at the waters edge and then they ambush their prey! They do their ambushing at night or early morning. During the day you will find them resting in trees or bushes.

And like all wildlife, it is better to observe from a distance than to approach or try to touch. Plus, it’s more fun to observe their natural behavior rather than to cause stress to them. In particular, look for their greeting and mating rituals when you will see two to three long white plumes stand erect at the back of their head.

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