Black-crowned Night Heron

(Nycticorax nycticorax)

Conservation Status
Black-crowned Night Heron
Photo by James Folden
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N5B, N5N - Secure Breeding and Nonbreeding

SNRB - Unranked Breeding

     
  Minnesota

Species in Greatest Conservation Need

     
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Black-crowned Night Heron is a medium-sized heron.

Adults are 22¾ to 26 (58 to 66 mm) in length and have a wingspan of 45¼ to 46½ (115 to 118 mm). Males are slightly larger than females. Compared to other herons, they are stocky and the neck and legs are short.

The top of the head and the back are black. The neck, wings, rump, and tail are gray. The “cheeks”, chin, and front of the neck are white. The underparts are white to pale gray. The bill is black and stout. There is a white stripe above the bill between the eyes. The eyes are large and red. The legs are dull yellow. In breeding season, two white plumes extend down from the crown.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: 22¾ to 26 (58 to 66 mm)

Wingspan: 45¼ to 46½ (115 to 118 mm)

 
     
 

Voice

 
 

 

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Breeding: Large wetlands

Migration: Lake shores, slow rivers, cattail marshes, swamps

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Migration

 
 

April to May and September to November

 
     
 

Nesting

 
 

It nests in colonies, often with Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons.

 
     
 

Food

 
 

Mostly small fish but also amphibians, reptiles, aquatic invertebrates, small birds and mammals, carrion, and garbage at landfills.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common but erratic migrant, rare and local breeder

 
         
 

Map

 
 

The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Class Aves (birds)  
 

Order

Pelecaniformes (pelicans, herons, ibises, and allies)  
 

Family

Ardeidae (bitterns, egrets, herons)  
 

Subfamily

Ardeinae  
 

Genus

Nycticorax (night herons)  
       
 

Bitterns, egrets, and herons (family Ardeidae) were formerly classified under the order Ciconiiformes. Based on a phylogenomic study published in 2008, the family was transferred to the order Pelecaniformes.

 
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

American Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax hoactli)

Dusky Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax obscurus)

Eurasian Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax nycticorax)

Falklands Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax falklandicus)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
Visitor Photos
   

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James Folden
       
  Black-crowned Night Heron   Black-crowned Night Heron
       
       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   
  Black-crowned Night Heron    
       

 

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Slideshows
   
     
     
     
     

 

slideshow

       
Visitor Videos
   

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Avi Birds
       
  Black-Crowned Night Heron [Nycticorax Nycticorax]
Dec 8, 2020
 
   
 
About

In this video, we learn about the black-crowned night heron, commonly referred to as the night heron.

   
       
       
Other Videos
 
  Black Crowned Night Herons - Nycticorax nycticorax
Ron Jackson
 
   
 
About

Oct 13, 2011

REGUA Brazil, September 2011. Juvenile bird followed by adults. A couple of Snowy Egrets as well.

   
       
  Black-Crowned Night Heron Dallas, Texas Nycticorax nycticorax
refidnasb1
 
   
 
About

Apr 22, 2013

Black Crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax in Dallas County Texas April 21, 2013. This particular Black-Crowned Night Heron is in the midst of preparing a nesting site to lay eggs during breeding season. The birds in this area feed in shallow drying pools along the Trinity River where floodwaters have left numerous bait fish and aquatic food for the birds to eat.

The black-crowned night-heron breeds on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. They are one of the more common herons in the United States, breeding everywhere except the southwest and Rocky Mountain states. They are found in many types of wetland habitats including riparian forests, wooded swamps, marshes, mangroves, and even occasionally grasslands or rice fields.

   
       
 
Observatório Natural
 
   
 
About

Dec 4, 2018

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Scientific Name: Nycticorax nycticorax

Recorded by: Leandro Tacioli
Location: Itatiba / SP - Brazil
Date/Time: 08/Oct/2016 - 04:50pm
Equipment: Sony Alpha A3000 (Nikon AF Zoom-NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4-5.6G)

   
       
  Black-crowned Night Heron: Dude ... and Predator--NARRATED
Jo Alwood
 
   
 
About

Jul 17, 2014

In close footage, you'll see a heron catch a mouse and a couple of fish.

You can see all my movies on my YouTube channel: Jo Alwood.

Click "Subscribe" to be notified of new movies.

   
       
  Tagging Black-Crowned Night Herons
Smithsonian's National Zoo
 
   
 
About

Jul 18, 2014

Every spring and summer the Bird House hosts some very special migratory guests -- about 100 black crowned night herons. The Bird House is their only rookery in Washington, D.C.

   
       
  Black-crowned Night Heron fishing, Central Park, NYC
quoteny
 
   
 
About

May 20, 2013

A Black-crowned Night Heron using the fishing technique "bill vibrating". The quick movement of this bird's bill in the water attracts a small fish consequently creating a convenient catch. New York City, May 2013

   
       

 

Camcorder

         
Visitor Sightings
   
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James Folden
7/8/2018

Location: Nicollet County, over Swan Lake

Black-crowned Night Heron


         
         
         
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Created: 1/9/2021

Last Updated:

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