Yellow-crowned Night-Heron


Yellow-crowned Night-Herons live in forested swamps or forested uplands along the Roanoke River. Their nests are made of twigs, are up to 4 feet in diameter, and are located up to 60 feet in trees on horizontal limbs away from the trunk and often hanging over the water. They nest in colonies of a few pairs up to several hundred pairs. Colony sites may be used for up to 20 years.
Yellow-crowned Night-Herons lay 2 to 6 eggs that are pale blue-green and between 2 and 2 ¼ inches long and 1 ½ and 1 3/4 inches wide. The eggs incubate for 24 or 25 days. The hatchlings are helpless and covered in pale gray down.
The majority of the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron's diet consists of crustaceans. They eat many kinds of crabs, including blue, ghost, and fiddler crabs, as well as crayfish. Their other prey includes insects, fish, snails, earthworms, marine worms, and leeches. Occasionally they been found to eat lizards, snakes, young birds, mice, and small rabbits. Foraging birds stand still or slowly stalk crabs and other prey along shorelines, marshes, and fields. Once in striking range they lunge at their prey and seize it in their bill. They swallow small prey whole, but often shake apart, crush, or spear larger prey. They forage on their own, typically keeping other individuals at a distance of 15 feet or more. 
Adult Yellow-crowned Night-Herons are medium-sized rather stocky herons. They have black faces and bills with white cheeks and yellowish crown stripes. Their bodies are gray and their legs are yellow. Immature birds are brown with tiny white spots on the wings and narrow, indistinct streaks on the underparts. Their bills are black. Yellow-crowned Night Herons are between 21 and 28 inches long and weigh 23 to 28 ounces.