Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Black-crowned Night Heron

Nycticorax nycticorax


Fun Facts

    Black-crowned night herons feed at night in the same areas that other heron species feed in the day.

    With a range that spans five continents, including much of North America, the black-crowned night-heron is the most widespread heron in the world.



  Adults are approximately 25 inches long and have a black crown and back with the remainder of the body white or grey, with red eyes and short yellow legs. Juvenile birds are brown, flecked with white and grey. These herons are found by marshes at night and by day they roost. They are found worldwide including North America, South America, Southern Europe, Africa, Southern Asia, Falkland Islands, and Hawaii.
The diet of the black-crowned night heron depends on what is available, and may include algae, fishes, leeches, earthworms, insects, crayfish, mussels, squid, amphibians, small rodents, plant material, garbage and organic refuse at landfills. Herons sometimes attract prey by rapidly opening and closing their beak in the water to create a disturbance that attracts its prey. This technique is known as bill vibrating.
To learn more about the black-crowned night heron visit the Mudflats Room at the Aquarium.