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Black-crowned Night Herons Feeding

Black-crowned Night Herons employ a number of techniques for capturing a wide variety of food, from standing stock still for a considerable amount of time waiting for prey to swim by to securing prey while swimming.  They feed mainly from evening until early morning. Because they are crepuscular (feeding at dawn and dusk) as well as nocturnal (as their name implies), feeding competition from other (diurnal) herons is minimized.

The diet of opportunistic Black-crowned Night Herons includes earthworms, insects, crayfish, mussels, fish, amphibians, snakes, turtles, birds, small mammals and plant material. They have been observed actively manipulating bait (bread in one case, dragonflies in another) to attract and catch fish. As can be seen in the inset photograph, they grasp, rather than stab, their prey.

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5 responses

  1. Davida Sky

    we were there!!!! Thanks Kym. I love Mary Holland.


    May 30, 2022 at 8:18 am

  2. Alice

    They must have great eye sight. Smart birds, to have a varied diet.

    May 30, 2022 at 8:48 am

  3. Betsy stewart

    Hi Mary – Hope all is well in your relatively new digs. I have a guest on. I seem to have a solitary Turkey visitor to my lawn this summer. A young male???? Betsy Stewart

    May 30, 2022 at 9:30 am

    • HI Betsy! I miss Hartland and the Upper Valley tremendously, but am giving the Champlain Valley a try! Hard to say which sex your turkey is…females are duller overall, with downy brown head and neck, whereas the males are brighter colored and lack the down. Males have those dark bristles called a beard on their chest, but so do 5-10% of females, so that’s not really a good way to tell. While females do care for the young, it could be a female who didn’t successfully breed. If you have a photo, and want to send it to me at, I’d be happy to try and sex the bird for you! My very best, Mary

      June 1, 2022 at 5:57 pm

  4. Bill on the Hill

    This bird reminds of the Green Heron but I don’t see those gorgeous green legs!
    Excellent shot Mary, keep ’em coming please…
    Bill… :~)

    May 31, 2022 at 8:40 am

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