Last week, Ranger Kristin mentioned to me that she had again seen the immature Yellow-crowned Night-heron that was first discovered in the Wetlands on the stormy 27th on May. Night herons tend to spend most of the day sleeping away in the dense cover of trees or shrubbery, doing most of their foraging at night, so it’s reasonable that no one had seen it since then. We often only get brief glimpses of the diurnal foraging Green Heron as it flies from one favorite hunting site to another in our Wetlands.
Yesterday while investigating the northwest corner of the Wetlands with Ranger Erin and Molly from Education, we spooked the heron. It was in the water very close to shore and flew off to a willow not far away (photo above).
I hope the night heron stays with us, finds our Wetlands suitable to its tastes and comes back next year with a friend. Besides being fun to watch, when you can find them, I think perhaps a night-heron is just what we need to keep the Wetland’s crayfish in check.
5 responses to Yellow-crowned hangs around!
Makes sense- thanks Greg
What’s your species (bird) count for the wetlands Greg, and for the entire Museum grounds?
I don’t really have a count for just the Wetlands but I do have a count for the area that’s covered in my daily routine which essentially covers Explore the Wild, the Dinosaur Trail, and Catch the Wind. But, if I saw, say, a Peregrine Falcon while I was standing at the top of the stairs leading to the Butterfly House I would count it also (I did see one fly over while standing there and I did count it).
So, I have a total of 122 bird species seen at, or flying over, the Museum as described above. Some of those birds are fly-overs only and have not to my knowledge actually stopped in. Species like Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier (which I have seen), Common Loon and certain other water birds may fly over but there’s nothing to draw them in to our little Wetland.
By the way, those 122 species only includes birds that I personally have seen. Nathan Swick has more than a few more to add to that list. While I don’t think he’s up to a total of 122 species yet, some of the birds that he’s seen have not been seen by me, so the list of species recorded at the Museum is larger than what I have actually seen myself. Make sense?
How can they see crayfish at night? Do they mostly hunt at dawn and dusk or do they wait until full dark?
If you look at the bird’s eye in the photo at left, and compare it to that of a Great Blue Heron
or even a Green Heron
you’ll notice that the yellow-crowned’s eye is larger relative to the head size, which means it (the eye) can bring in more light. Owls, flying squirrels, and bush babys all have large eyes in relation to the size of their heads, and they are all nocturnal. My what big eyes you have – the better to see you with (at night)!
I have seen yellow-crowneds stalking prey at all times of the day. But, if you happen to live or visit an area where these birds are common, like a coastal salt marsh, you’ll likely see groups of them fly out at dusk to their favorite crabbing locations from the trees alongside of the marsh. They start the hunt at dusk.