Characteristics and Behavior:
The Yellow-crowned night heron is a medium-sized heron with a distinct yellow crown and black stripe running down the back of its neck. Its body is primarily gray with a white underbelly and it has long, slender legs. This species is typically active at dusk and during the night, and tends to be solitary. They are often seen standing still in shallow water, waiting for prey to come within striking distance. The Yellow-crowned night heron has a unique hunting technique where it may use its wings to create shade over the water to attract prey. Its preferred diet includes crustaceans, leaning heavily on crabs and crayfish, which they catch with a lunge, then shake apart or swallow whole. They’re most common in coastal marshes, barrier islands, and mangroves, but their range extends inland to the Midwest.
- The Yellow-crowned night heron can be found along the coastal regions of the southeastern United States, as well as throughout Central and South America.
- They prefer to live in wetland habitats, including marshes, swamps, and mangrove forests.
- This species may also be found in urban environments, such as parks or gardens near water sources.
- The Yellow-crowned night heron reaches sexual maturity at around two years of age.
- Breeding season occurs from April to July, with the female laying 2-4 eggs in a stick nest.
- Both parents share incubation duties and after the chicks hatch, both parents also take turns feeding them.
- Young birds can fledge after around 30 days and will remain with their parents for several weeks before becoming independent.
- The Yellow-crowned night heron is sometimes called the "squawk" because of its loud, distinctive call.
- This species has been known to use tools, such as twigs, to lure prey out of crevices or other hiding places.
- In some cultures, the Yellow-crowned night heron is considered a symbol of good luck and prosperity.