The night heron usually hunts for food in the early morning hours and then again at dusk. They can be seen standing along the water waiting to ambush frogs and small fish as they pass by snatching them up with their bill. They live in fresh as well as saltwater marsh areas.
Male and female night herons look alike. The plumage is gray with two or three white feathers on the back of their heads.
Their red eyes are sure to catch your attention as well as their yellow legs. They are short and stocky herons unlike many others in the heron family.
The red eyes of the black heron are sure to catch attention as well as their yellow legs.
The female is usually somewhat smaller than the male bird. The juvenile night heron are brown and have yellowish eyes until they become an adult bird. They have a brown head with white spots on tips of their feathers.
First-year birds look similar to the adult bird with fewer white spots on their wings. When the night heron reaches 2 years old it tend to resemble the adult night heron more it reaches full plumage in the third year.
Living on a canal I see a variety of wildlife on a daily basis. Not a day passes by without night heron sightings. At least five or six visit on a regular basis. They will sit along the seawall or prop themselves up in a seagrape tree hoping for leftover bait fish from us.
Merry Beth Ryan, a member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association, can be reached at www.merrybethryanphotography.com, by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone (941) 544-5023.
Before we even start heading our boat down the canal to our dock a whole fleet of regulars come flying down to greet us. It amazes me how birds recognize the boat.
The night heron is a vocal, social bird. They prefer shallow water when searching for food, are great at still fishing and can stand for long periods of time waiting to ambush their prey. It's amazing how still these birds can be. They appear to be statue at times, which is all part of how they hunt.
The night heron is an entertaining bird but it will defend its feeding grounds against much larger birds while marking their territory.
The night heron is photogenic so make sure you have your camera along with you on your next bird-watching adventure.