The stocky, short-necked, short-legged Black-crowned Night Heron is a singular heron. His black cap extends down the neck and upper back. His cheeks, throat, breast and underparts are white. The wings are gray. During breeding season, he sports two to three majestic, long white plumes.
The young resemble the American Bittern, only they are grayer-brown with streaking and spots.
This Black-crowned Night Heron breeds throughout the United States, except for the Rocky Mountain States. Unlike other herons of mixed colonies, this particular heron prefers a solitary nest.
Calls or song.
The marsh resounds with a loud "quawks" and "wok" when this heron alights to a tree to roost or dives down to the water to fish. He voices a "kak-kak" upon landing.
Population and distribution.
As its name implies, the Night Heron is mostly nocturnal, making its appearance at dusk to forage for food, a rich diet of fish, frogs, insects, worms, snakes and mice. This bird winters in the southern half of the country.
The Black-crowned Night Heron builds a platform of dried twigs in which it places 3-5 pale blue-green eggs close to the ground and near the water. However, frequently it might locate the nest half a mile distant and higher up.