Adults are approximately 64 cm (25 in) long and weigh 800 g. They have a black crown and back with the rest of the body white or grey, red eyes, and short yellow legs. They have pale grey wings and white under parts. Immature birds have dull grey-brown plumage on their heads, wings, and backs, with numerous pale spots. Their underparts are paler and streaked with brown. The young birds have orange eyes and duller yellowish-green legs.
Habitat and Distribution
The breeding habitat is fresh and salt-water wetlands throughout much of the world.This heron is migratory in the northern part of its range, but otherwise resident (even in the cold Patagonia). The North American population winters in Mexico, the southern United States, Central America, and the West Indies.
They primarily eat small fish, crustaceans, frogs, aquatic insects, small mammals and small birds. These birds stand still at the water’s edge and wait to ambush prey, mainly at night or early morning.
Black-crowned Night Herons nest in colonies on platforms of sticks in a group of trees, or on the ground in protected locations such as islands or reedbeds. Three to eight white eggs are laid.
Calls and Songs
They are very noisy birds in their nesting colonies, with calls that are commonly transcribed as quok or woc, woc.