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Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa violacea


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Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, breeding adult
credit: Terry Foote /CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Ardeidae, Herons, Egrets, Bitterns view all from this family

Description ADULT BREEDING Blue-gray overall with pale streaks on back and wings and striking face markings: whitish yellow crown and black face with white cheeks. Note the long white head plumes, bright reddish orange legs, and large, red eyes. ADULT NONBREEDING Similar, but crown is white, leg color is dull yellow, and head plumes are smaller. JUVENILE Similar to juvenile Black-crowned, but darker brown overall; back and breast in particular are adorned with white spots (smaller than on juvenile Black-crowned); note the blackish (not yellow) bill.

Dimensions Length: 22-27" (56-69 cm); Wngspn: 3' 8" (1.1 m)

Habitat Favors dense swamps, coastal marshes, mangroves, and beaches; present year-round in coastal districts, but range extends inland and north in summer.

Observation Tips Easy to see in Everglades.

Range New England, Western Canada, California, Southeast, Florida, Plains, Southwest, Eastern Canada, Texas, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic

Voice Utters a harsh waak or wok.

Discussion Has similar proportions to Black-crowned but plumage is mainly blue-gray with striking black and white markings on head. In flight, note the entirely dark underwings (white in Black-crowned). Most active after dark and typically roosts in trees during daytime, adopting hunchback appearance. Sexes are similar.