This bird is a slow and patient hunter. It will stand quietly for long periods of time waiting for a fish or frog to pass by. They will also raid the nests for the young of other herons, terns, and Franklin's Gulls. Even small rodents in grasslands are not safe from these birds.
Black crown and back. Short, black bill. Gray wings. White underparts. Red eyes. Yellow or pinkish legs. Long, white plumes on back of head during breeding. Immature birds are dull gray-brown with light white spots. Sexes similiar. 23 to 28 inches in length.
Marshes, swamps, and wooded streams.
3-5 pale blue-green eggs with a 24-26 day incubation period. Fledging occurs 42-49 days after hatching. The nest is a shallow saucer of twigs and sticks built in thickets, reeds, or sometimes in a tree. Nests in colonies, and sometimes with other heron species.
- Lake Murray, La Mesa
- Lindo Lake, Lakeside
- Wild Animal Park, Escondido
- Famosa Slough, San Diego