Sunday, September 28, 2008

Night-Heron Identification

There are two species of Night-Herons, the Yellow-crowned and the Black-crowned. The adults of these species are very straightforward, the confusion comes in, when trying to identify the juvenile birds.

This is an adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.

Both of the Night-Herons are stout, short necked birds compared to other herons. They have stout, thick bills and short legs. The Black-crowned has a very short, thick neck while the Yellow-crowned has a longer, skinnier neck. When flying, only part of the Black-crowned’s feet extend past the tail. In the Yellow-crowned the entire foot extends past the tail.

There are many good ways to identify the juvenile Night-Herons. The easiest to use field mark is the coloration of the bill. The Black-crowned has a partially yellow bill; the Yellow-crowned has a completely dark bill. This is a very good field mark when you are close enough to see the bill color. The streaking on the back is also a distinctive mark. The Black-crowned has large white spots on the wing coverts; the Yellow-crowned only shows small white spots with white feather edgings on the wing coverts. If you can only get a quick look, the impression that the Black-crowned gives is of an overall light bird. The Yellow-crowned is an overall dark bird.

Using these field marks and obtaining experience with the Night-Herons should make all Night-Herons fairly easy to identify.

1 comment:

Birdfreak said...

We had a Yellow-crowned Night-heron this year in our county which is pretty rare, but we see the Black-crowned Night-herons often.

Great post!