Adrian Burke and I were photographing together one morning last year on the Gulf coast of Florida when we came across this Yellow-crowned Night Heron stalking a Ghost Crab. Adrian and I laid down on our stomachs in the sand and got ready for some action.
It didn’t take long for the Yellow-crowned Night Heron to grab the crab and send the sand flying. This was a fairly large crab and it seemed to be trying to put up a fight.
It was difficult not crack up when through my viewfinder I saw the crab grab the heron’s bill and possibly its tongue. The heron didn’t look too pleased either.
The Yellow-crowned Night heron tore the pincers off of the Ghost Crab first and then proceeded to remove the rest of the crab’s legs. Our presence; still laying flat on the sand, didn’t seem to bother the heron at all.
A couple of beach walkers walked by the heron and it moved closer to where we were laying in the sand. The beach walkers didn’t seem to notice the heron or for that matter the two crazy, sand-crawling photographers.
It didn’t take much longer for the heron to finish devouring the crab. The heron still must have been hungry because it started stalking yet another Ghost Crab in the mangroves before we could even sit up.
Some times the Ghost Crab is the predator and some times it is the prey as it was for this Yellow-crowned Night Heron.
This Yellow-crowned Night Heron has what is called a “blown eye”, the pupil is irregularly shaped. I have seen this same eye problem in American Oystercatchers, some of the herons and in Owls. It does not appear to affect the ability to hunt for food.