Black-crowned Night-Heron Juvenile and Adult

by Larry Jordan on November 6, 2012

Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) Juvenile photos by Larry Jordan (click on photos for full sized images)

I stopped at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge a few weeks ago on the way back home from a Northern California Audubon Council meeting in Clear Lake and spotted a few Black-crowned Night-Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) on the auto tour just before sunset.

This juvenile was hunting from a irrigation outlet right next to the auto tour road which circles this nearly 11,000 acre refuge in the heart of the Sacramento Valley. He or she was so focused on its feeding endeavors that it hardly noticed me just a few yards away.

The adult Black-crowned Night-Heron on the other hand, noticed me right away but apparently did not consider me a threat.

The Black-crowned Night-Heron is the most widespread heron in the world, breeding on every continent except Antarctica and Australia.

You would think that this fact would make them easy to find but not necessarily so. Although widespread and common in North America, its coloration and behavior, as well as its nocturnal and crepuscular (active at twilight) feeding habits, especially outside the breeding season, render it less noticeable than many diurnal herons1.

Our National Wildlife Refuge System makes close encounters with wild birds and other animals like this possible for all Americans and foreign visitors as well. The problem is that our refuges are terribly underfunded and the thousands of acres of lost wetlands that our refuge system attempts to replace are not supplied with the water necessary to support them.

Because of these huge problems with our National Wildlife Refuge System, we will be promoting a solution to this funding dilemma: the Wildlife Conservation Stamp. This stamp would bring a much needed additional source of revenue to these national treasures. More information about this proposal coming soon.

In the meantime, if you as a wildlife or bird watcher were able to support the National Wildlife Refuges by purchasing a Wildlife Conservation Stamp as an alternative to the Duck Stamp purchased primarily by hunters, would you do it?

Think about it as you watch and listen to the sights and sounds of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge at sunset.

For more great bird posts and bird photography, check out The Bird D’pot and Wild Bird Wednesday!

References: 1Birds of North America Online

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Eileen November 6, 2012 at 7:15 am

One of my favorite herons! Larry, great shots of both the juvenile and the adult night herons.


TexWisGirl November 6, 2012 at 7:53 am

beautiful shots! i was able to see several yellow-crowned night-herons here this summer, both adult and juvenile, but my shots were nothing like yours!


ken schneider November 6, 2012 at 8:08 am

Great views of the herons. Their eyes are so vivid. I enjoyed the clip– so peaceful.


Mick November 6, 2012 at 11:25 am

Beautiful close-up photos of the Herons. Great to see photos of both the juvenile and the adult.


Wally November 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Very nice images. The clip was really good. Yes, an alternative the duck hunting stamp seems a good idea. –Wally


Phil November 7, 2012 at 1:54 am

Lots of really good comparson shots there Larry. Don’t get to see many here and when I do see one it invariably sticks to living uo to it’s label as a “night heron”.


Mia McPherson November 7, 2012 at 4:59 am

Love these Herons!


phyllis oller November 7, 2012 at 6:09 am

Their eyes are so striking,great pictures of them,have not seen any of these birds before,phyllis in Pa


Modesto Viegas (Portugal) November 7, 2012 at 9:53 am

Great captures!!!


Pat November 7, 2012 at 11:23 am

Wonderful captures!


Mary Howell Cromer November 8, 2012 at 11:16 am

Wow, Larry, these are fantastic and so wonderful. Very nice post~


Stewart M November 10, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Great shots of the Herons – I always like seeing herons when I’m out. I’ve been in Oman for a week (hence slow reply) and managed to see 4 species of heron.

Thanks for the comment on my blog.

Cheers – Stewart M – Australia


Ingrid November 10, 2012 at 10:56 pm

Larry, I love these shots and the lovely audio of the video clip. I don’t see the Night Herons up here in Seattle, I miss them. I always likened them to hunched over little wizards, I just can’t get that impression out of my head. I’m looking forward to many sightings once we’re back in California.


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