Black-crowned Night Heron

Scientific Name
Nycticorax nycticorax
Geographic Range
Fish, amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals
Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern

More Information

The black-crowned night heron is a medium-sized wading bird that often stands with its long neck retracted. Adults have a pale gray body and a black crown and back. There is no difference in plumage between genders. Juveniles have brown, striated plumage and gain adult coloration in the third year. These birds are more active at dusk or night in the wetland habitats they prefer.

Did You Know?

  • During the breeding season from April to August, black-crowned night herons may extend their hours of activity into the day to acquire the maximum amount of food for their chicks.
  • Despite having an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status of Least Concern, regional populations face more threats. In Illinois and six other states in the Great Lakes region, the black-crowned night heron is listed as endangered, largely due to habitat destruction and degradation.
  • The colony of herons that has been nesting at Lincoln Park Zoo since roughly 2010 is the largest in Illinois. This has allowed zoo scientists to do management and conservation work on-site that will benefit the entire species.
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