Black-crowned Night-Heron

photo by Phil Swanson

Nycticorax nycticorax
L 25″ (64 cm) W 44″ (112 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

Distinctive “quock,” often heard at night.

Description: Sexes similar. Adult has glossy black crown and back; rest of upperparts, wings, and tail medium gray, blending into white upperparts; few thin white plumes hang from nape; slightly downcurved black bill; rather short yellow legs and feet; large red eyes. Immature dark brown above, streaked with buff and white; heavily streaked brown on white below; legs and most of bill yellowish.

Behavior: Roosts in groups in trees diurnally and usually forages at night.

black crowed night heron
Habitat: Marshy ponds, lakes, and reservoirs and occasionally rivers and streams. Especially attracted to marshy areas with dense emergent vegetation during breeding season.

Where in Nebraska: Common spring and fall migrant statewide; local breeder in the central portion of the state. Rare breeder elsewhere.

Nebraska Seasons: Best time to observe is late spring and summer.

Fun Facts: They will lure prey, such as frogs or small fish, by making small vibrations in the water with their bill.

Black-crowned Night-Heron - photo by Phil Swanson juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)