Nature Journal
with Photos

Black-crowned Night-Heron
Identification Tips
(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)
General Information
- Sexes similar
- Fairly small, stocky, short-legged and short-necked
- Bill medium-sized and pointed
- Tucks neck in close to body in flight and at rest,
   rarely extending it

- Red eyes, legs yellow
- Black bill
- Black crown and back
- White face, throat, foreneck, chest and belly
- Blue-gray wings
- Two long, white, filamentous plumes extending from
   back of head in alternate plumage

- Eyes yellowish to amber, legs dull greyish
- Yellow base to bill
- Brown head, neck, chest and belly streaked with buff
   and white
- Wings and back darker brown with large white spots
   at the tips of the feathers; spots especially large
   on the greater secondary coverts

- Acquires full adult plumage in its third year
- First year birds are similar to juvenile, but have less
   extensive spotting on upperwings and a dark cap
- Second year birds resemble the adult, but have a
   brown neck and wings contrasting with darker brown
   cap and back

Similar species

Adults are unmistakable. Immatures can be separated from American Bittern by pale spotting on the upperwing, lack of black neck spot, different shape, stouter bills and more even upperwing coloration in flight.

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron has smaller spots on greater secondary coverts, smaller spots on head and neck, thicker bill, and longer legs. Immature Black Crowns can show a variety of plumage characters so are best separated from immature Yellow-crowns by their smaller, thinner bill and shorter legs.
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