by , Ranger
Greg Dodge is a professional naturalist as well as a writer, videographer and producer of natural history DVDs. His images have been used in various TV productions, museum displays, and corporate videos. Above all, he has a fascination and passion for all things natural.
Stop by and say hello Tuesday thru Saturday in Explore the Wild, Catch the Wind, or on the Dino Trail.

Yellow-crowned Stays Another Day!

May 28th, 2011

Yellow-crowned Night Heron (5/28/11).

I thought I’d go down to the Wetlands early (relatively early) to see if the night heron that showed up yesterday was still around. At first I thought that the bird had moved on, until I checked the secondary Wetlands Overlook (near the Lemurs). It had rained 3-5 inches the day before and there weren’t many exposed areas in the swamp for a night heron to hunt from, but the bird had found one on the back side of the Wetlands.

When night herons hunt they typically move very, very slowly so as not to scare the prey, which is usually crabs, crayfish, and other small invertebrates. As the bird moves close enough to the prey to strike, it does so with a quick lunge catching the prey in its open bill. I’ve watched these stealthy herons hunt for fiddler crabs on a mud flat for hours, slowly stalking the little crabs and then swallowing them down with little hesitation.

Waiting for a big, crunchy crayfish to walk by.

Our visiting yellow-crowned is not quite in full adult plumage, which can take two years to achieve.

Perhaps this heron will stay a while longer, although I’m doubtful. We have no crabs in our Wetlands. But, we do have a fairly healthy population of crayfish, and certainly many frogs so hopefully I’ll be wrong about how long the heron is with us. We’ll see.

Not a night heron, but a Gray Catbird. This bird came over to see what I was so intently watching in the swamp. Never pass up an opportunity to get a photo when one presents itself.

Join the conversation:

  1. It must be heron season! I went to the wetlands on the 31st and saw what may be a Little Blue Heron. I even have a photo:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ejchang/5778693497/

    Posted by Eunice
  2. Ranger Comment :

    Eunice,
    I can understand why many folks mistake the small heron in your photo for a Little Blue Heron, after all it’s more blue than green and it’s little. But your photo is of a Green Heron, a regular visitor in our Wetland’s.
    http://blogs.lifeandscience.org/greg-dodge/2011/04/14/while-were-all-waiting/#grhex
    One of these days perhaps a Little Blue Heron will show up. I hope that I’m here that day. I will be very excited!!!
    Green Heron used to be known as Green-backed Heron and Little Green Heron. The green on the back is evident in the right lighting conditions, but still subjective.
    By the way, LIttle Blue Herons are “little” as compared to Great Blue Herons and are proportionately longer legged, longer necked and overall taller than Green Herons. They are also truly blue, except for the neck which has some reddish coloration to it giving the neck a somewhat purple sheen in good light. And oh yeah, for the first year of its life, a Little Blue Heron is white. Confused?
    Ever see a Tri-colored Heron, which used to be called Louisiana Heron and that is red, white and blue, at least when seen in the right light in the right season….

    Posted by Greg Dodge
  3. Greg,

    Thank you so much for helping identify the heron! It IS confusing identifying them, but that’s part of what makes it fun :)

    Posted by Eunice
  4. Ranger Comment :

    Yes, it is fun to figure out what’s what in the bird world, in any world. Just about every day out here in Explore the Wild or Catch the Wind I find something that I haven’t seen or have seen but have yet to identify. Just yesterday morning I was photographing elderberry and came across a previously unknown (to me) fly, a strange looking weevil, and a new dragonfly for the Museum’s odonate list.
    Have a good one.

    Posted by Greg Dodge

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