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Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa violacea

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Yellow-crowned Night-Heron is a compact (approx 61 cm), strong flier with populations on the mainland as well as islands from the Galapagos to the Lesser Antilles. The blue-gray adults have a black head with buffy crown and cheek stripes, a red eye, and a long pale plume that arises from the back of the crown. Immatures are dark brown with small, round, pale brown spots, and thick, all black bills. Although they take prey such as fishes, frogs, and mollusks, this bird is a crustacean specialist and its range and seasonal status reflect the availability of prey such as land and shore crabs and crayfish. Yellow-crowned Night-Herons appear slimmer and longer-legged than the similar Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). In flight, the Yellow-crowned’s legs and feet protrude further past the end of the tail. Nesting sites are variable and may be on or close to the ground or in trees, on islands or the mainland, and close to or away from other species of herons. Nests may occur in colonies or at isolated sites. Unlike most other herons, Yellow-crowned Night-Herons often nest in close proximity to humans in residential areas or parks.

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Higher-pitched calls in flight

© William W. H. Gunn

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  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-breeding

Recommended Citation

. (). Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/ycnher