Beautiful yellow crowned night heron spotted near the Choctawhatchee River

April 11, 2010

Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea) Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Heron perched with watchful eye as she protects her nest

The beautiful yellow-crowned night heron (Nyctanassa violacea) was spotted along the chain of lakes near Ebro. The chain of lakes is a tributary of the Choctawhatchee River.

The heron was poised on a branch not far from her nest which housed a pale blue egg.

About the yellow-crowned night heron
Body- Slate-gray, L 24″
Bill Description- Dark, spear-like, immature all black bill
Leg Color- Yellow-Orange (breeding)
Longer than Black-crowned
Other Key Characteristics- White cheeks and crown, yellowish plumes (adult); back speckled white (juvenile)
Status- Resident
Reproduction- March-June, 3 to 4 pale blue eggs, loosely constructed stick nests. May nest alone, with other Yellow-crowns, or in large mixed-species colonies.
Distribution- Breeds from New England to Florida, west to Texas, north to Minnesota and along Mississippi River. Winters along Florida coastline north to South Carolina.
Habitat- Coastal mangroves, hardwood swamps
Diet- Primarily crustaceans
Call- Quawk: higher pitched than Black-crowned
Fun facts- Less nocturnal than Black-crowned. Expanded its range northward in recent decades.
Information courtesy University of Florida IFAS Extension