Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa violacea



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Stocky and compact heron with a blocky head and thick neck. Adults have a boldly marked black-and-white head with a yellow crown, though the yellow can be hard to see depending on lighting conditions. Note gray underparts.


Juveniles are brown and streaky overall with fine streaking and spotting. Note the hefty black bill.


Immatures take 3-4 years to attain adult plumage. Immatures are browner overall than adults with an adultlike head pattern that develops over time. This individual is starting to show a whitish cheek patch.


Flies with neck tucked in and feet trailing behind, sticking out past the end of the tail.


Males perform a neck-stretching display for females by slowly raising and quickly retracting their head while fanning their long shoulder plumes. Females sometimes reciprocate displays.


Compact heron with an upright stance; often stands with its neck tucked in. The bold head pattern and yellow crown are distinctive.


Stands still patiently waiting for prey or slowly walks in search of crabs, frogs, and aquatic invertebrates.


Found in coastal wetlands, barrier islands, saltmarshes, drainage ditches, mangroves, swamps, and sometimes wet lawns or fields.

Recommended Citation

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: