Yellow-crowned Night Herons

Yellow-crowned Night Herons (Nycticorax violaceus

The Yellow-crowned Night Herons (Nycticorax violaceus) is a smaller heron, similar in appearance to the Black-crowned Night Heron.

Yellow-crowned Night Herons Standing Near the Water
Yellow-crowned Night Herons Standing Near the Water


The Yellow-crowned Night Heron averages 61 cm in length and weighs 625 g. It has a distinctive white crown and back. They havewhite stripes below the eyes. The rest of the plumage is greyish. The eyes are red and the legs are short and yellow.

Juveniles look like young Black-crowned Night-Herons, with a plumage that is mostly brown flecked with white or grey.

Distribution / Range:

They breed in the swamps and marshes of the eastern United States ranging south to north-eastern South America.

Some are permanent residents in warmer locations; while others migrate south for the winter to Central America and the West Indies. After the breeding season, some may wander north to the lower Great Lakes or Ontario.

A related heron was endemic to Bermuda, but became extinct following human colonization. American yellow-crowned night herons have been introduced to fill its ecological niche.

Breeding / Nesting:

The Yellow-crowned Night Heron usually nest colonies, typically on platform nests of sticks situated in trees or shrubs overhanging water. The average clutch consists of 3-5 pale blue-green eggs.

A Yellow-crowned Night Heron In The Water
A Yellow-crowned Night Heron In The Water

Diet / Feeding:

Yellow-crowned Night Heron mostly feed on crustaceans, mollusks, frogs, aquatic insects and small fish. They stalk their prey or stand still at the water’s edge and wait to ambush them at night.

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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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