Black-crowned Night-Heron

Here in southern Arizona, Black-crowned Night-Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) are rare winter visitors and uncommon transients and summer residents at ponds and lakes with nearby trees for perching in during the day. My dad and I spotted this semi-tame Black-crowned Night-Heron standing in broad daylight near some fishermen at the south end of the urban fishing lake at Lakeside Park in Tucson in late December of 2006.

Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

According to the fishermen, the friendly Black-crowned Night-Heron is a regular at Lakeside Park. It is attracted to anyone with a fishing pole and will fly up and stand motionless a few yards away hoping to steal fish or grab leftover bait.

Black-crowned Night-Herons have the largest range of any heron species and are found throughout most of the World, including North and South America, Hawaii, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

These birds are called Night-Herons because they are usually nocturnal. Nycticorax, their Latin genus and species name, means "Night Raven" and refers to their nocturnal habits and crow or raven-like calls. Black-crowned Night-Herons hunt fish, amphibians, reptiles, rodents, the eggs and nestlings of waterbirds, insects, crustaceans and other aquatic creatures at night and then sleep in nearby trees during the day. This particular oddball Black-crowned Night-Heron has learned to be active during the day because that's when the fishermen are around.

Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Black-crowned Night-Herons have bright red eyes and are white below with gray wings, a black back, and a black cap with long, slender, white head feathers. The sexes are similar. The legs of both sexes are yellowish for most of the year but will turn pink during the breeding season.