yellow-crowned night heron

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Nyctanassa violacea

CLASS Aves | ORDER Ciconiiformes | FAMILY Ardeidae

RANGE North America, West Indies, South America, Galapagos Islands

HABITAT Marshes, swampy forests, lakes, lagoons, mangroves

DIET Mainly crustaceans, particularly crabs and crawfish; also fish, insects, snails, frogs and small snakes

22.9 - 28.2 oz

21.7 - 27.6 in

24 – 25 days

2 – 6 eggs

IUCN Status
Least Concern
yellow-crowned night heron

This bird's head is mostly black, with white cheeks and a yellowish crown and plumes. It is primarily active at night. It roosts silently in a tree during the day, and comes down at dusk to feed.

The yellow-crowned night heron will 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 typically nest in small colonies of several pairs up to several hundred pairs on islands that are safe from predators. Colony sites can remain in use for more than 20 years.

Their nest, which can be 4 feet across, takes about 11 days to build initially. Night-herons use them for several years, adding to them each year.