Dean M. Chriss
Yellow Crowned Night Heron, South Florida

Yellow Crowned Night Heron, South Florida

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With a length of about about 24" (61 cm) and a wingspan of about 44 inches, the yellow-crowned night heron (Nyctanassa violacea) is a small heron. Juveniles look nothing like the adult shown here, being mainly brown flecked with white or gray. Yellow-crowned night herons are found throughout a large part of the Americas, especially in warmer coastal regions. In warmer locations some are permanent residents while others migrate to Central America and the West Indies. They may occasionally wander north to the lower Great Lakes or Ontario after the breeding season.

This image shows an adult yellow-crowned night heron in early morning light, wandering through mangrove roots at low tide in search of breakfast. Wading birds are often most active at low tide because the shallow water gives them access to more food, and nearly all birds are most active in the mornings and evenings. The best possible time for viewing is when low tide occurs during the first or last hours of daylight, as was the case when this image was captured.