Sunday, January 23, 2011

Black-Crowned Night Heron

The mysterious Black-Crowned Night Heron is an unusual looking creature that is rare to come across.

I know it doesn't-- but it occurs to me:  Does this bird have a little penguin in it???

A Black-Crowned Night Heron party in a tree at Charleston's Magnolia Cemetery.
To me the adults have two distinctive characteristics:  those blazing red eyes and the long black strip along its head and back, hence the black-crowned moniker. Below: In flight- the Black-Crowned Night Heron

The Black-Crowned Night Heron is considered medium-sized (23-28 inches long), stocky, short necked.

Notice the white plumes on the above left heron.  The male and female aduts are considered identical as far as appearance from a distance.

This bird does its feeding at night, thus the "night" part of its name.  During the day, they can be seen and seem active only when flying away from me and my camera!

Another interesting thing about the Black-Crowned Night Heron is how the young ones or juveniles look so much differently than their parents.  They do share the red eyes (above). They go through some major transformation to eventually take on the black and white look of the adult. 

The juvenile (below) resembles the American Bittern.  But the different eye color helps differentiate the two. 

I've followed this family of Black-Crowned Night Herons for a few months now at Charleston's Magnolia Cemetery.  They have been enjoyable to observe and challenging to photograph.  They do readily mix with other species such as the White Ibis below, and with a Brown Pelican in the photo after that.

Photo (below) an adult Night Heron shares a pond tree with several Ibis, including some jueveniles of that breed
Black-Crowned Night Herons- for more about this cool customer, see
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