Nyctanassa violacea


Unlike the Black-crowned Night-Heron, the Yellow-crowned feeds mainly on crustaceans, especially crabs and crayfish. To a lesser extent, its diet also includes water beetles, fish, insects, leeches, mussels, frogs, and young birds.


General: The legs and feet extend beyond the tail when in flight. Sexes similar. 22 to 27 inches in length.

Adult: Blue-gray body plumage. Dark center on back feathers. Black face and chin. Broad white stripe below eye that extends across the head. Pale yellow forehead. Buffy-white crown and plumes. Red eye. Short, thick, black bill. Long legs that vary in color with age, but are typically yellowish.

Juvenile: Head, neck, chest, and belly are streaked with dark gray-brown and buffy white. Wings and back are dark brown with small white spots at the tips of the feathers. Dark cap. Yellowish to brownish-yellow eyes. Short, thick, black bill. Long legs that vary in color with age. Adult plumage is slowly obtained over two years, losing the spotting and streaking while acquiring the face and body plumage of an adult.


Tidal mudflats, swamps, marshes, riverbanks, lakes, and lagoons.


3-5 blue-green eggs. The eggs have a 21-25 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 25 days. The nest is a woven platform of sticks and twigs, occasionally lined with grass or leaves. It's usually built in a tree, but occasionally is built on the ground. Nests individually or in colonies, and occasionally with other herons.

Observed Locations:

  • Tijuana River Estuary, Imperial Beach

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