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Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Nyctanassa violacea ORDER: PELECANIFORMES FAMILY: ARDEIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A nocturnal heron of the southern swamps and coasts, the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron can also be found breeding along wooded streams northward to Indiana and Illinois.

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Appearance

Herons
Herons
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Medium-sized rather stocky heron.
  • Black face and bill, with white cheek.
  • Yellowish crown stripe.
  • Gray body.
  • Legs yellow.

Immature Description

Brown with tiny white spots on the wings and narrow, indistinct streaks on the underparts. Bill black.

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Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Range Map
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Field MarksHelp

  • Adult

    Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

    Adult
    • Cream-colored stripe on crown, thinner stripe below eye on black face
    • Long yellow legs
    • Red iris
    • Slaty blue-gray body with "shaggy" feathers on back and wings.
    • © Stephen Pollard, Fort Bend County, Texas, July 2010
  • Immature

    Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

    Immature
    • Long neck
    • Thick, dagger-like black bill
    • Body grayish brown with thin white streaks on neck, small white spots on wings
    • Red iris
    • Long, yellow-green legs
    • © Bob Baker, Chincoteague NWR, Assateague Island, Virginia, September 2007
  • Adult catching crab

    Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

    Adult catching crab
    • Bold buff and black striped pattern on head
    • Long white plumes extend from back of head in breeding adults
    • Blue-gray body with "shaggy" feathers on back and wings
    • Long neck
    • Thick black bill
    • © Phillip Simmons, Key Vista Park, Holiday, Florida, January 2011
  • Adult

    Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

    Adult
    • Breeding adults have long white plumes extending from back of the head
    • Stout black bill
    • Long yellow legs
    • Bold buffy stripe on crown, more yellow towards bill
    • Thinner buffy stripe below eye on otherwise black face
    • © Rene Odeide, Parque Central, San Juan, Puerto Rico, December 2010
  • Immature

    Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

    Immature
    • Thin white streaks on neck, with small white spots and white edges on wings
    • Long green-yellow legs
    • Thick black bill
    • Red iris
    • © Carlos Escamilla, Laredo, Texas, September 2010
  • Adult breeding

    Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

    Adult breeding
    • Wispy white plumes extend from back of crown in breeding adults
    • Long yellow legs
    • Long neck
    • Long, silvery-gray neck
    • Shaggy darker feathers on back and wings
    • © Laurel Williams/GBBC, Miami, Florida
  • Immature

    Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

    Immature
    • Long neck with thin white streaks
    • Red iris
    • Stout black bill
    • Small, pale spots on wings and back
    • © John Reeves/GBBC, Houston, Texas
  • Immature transitioning to adult

    Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

    Immature transitioning to adult

Similar Species

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