Black-crowned Night Heron fly by

I spent yesterday morning photographing at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Box Elder County, Utah. Black-crowned Night Herons seemed to be everywhere on the south side of the auto tour loop, both adults and hatch year birds.

Black-crowned Night HeronBlack-crowned Night Heron – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/3000, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC 400mm, natural light

Black-crowned Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) are wading birds that are mainly active at night, dusk and early dawn. They are common and widespread throughout North America and the world and can be found in Utah year round near lakes, ponds, streams and marshes.

I looked them up on my iBird Pro app this morning and learned that the adults of this species do not distinguish between their own chicks and chicks from other nests and they will brood chicks that are not their own.

I photographed this adult Black-crowned Night Heron as it flew over an area of cattails and rushes after it flushed. It looks like there was a long piece of filamentous algae attached to its wing tip.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Very lovely photo Mia. I’ve seen them fly only when it was almost dark. Fantastic!

  2. I love these images Mia. Usually I see these herons perched. They’re actually bigger in flight I think than when they’re sitting on a perch. Carol

  3. Great Detail as always Mia. I also learned that ‘long dangly bits of stuff’ is better described as filamentous algae

  4. Excellent in-flight BCNH capture! They are very cool birds. I love their red eyes. Surprisingly, we have a large group of them residing in the city of Chicago. There are over 300 adult birds and more than 140 active nests in one particular area. I did not know that the adults will brood youngsters that are not their own. Fantastic! Great post, as always!

    • Julie, Black-crowned Night Herons adapt well to cities if the habitat can support them with shelter, food and good nesting sites. They are very interesting herons. Thanks!

  5. Beautiful shot..thanks for sharing about brooding other chicks..I did not know that..have a terrific Tuesday with your camera..

  6. Incredible capture Mia!!! Your focus is always perfect. I really enjoy watching BCNHs as well, love those red eyes!

  7. I’ve also seen them. When standing still during the day, they cam give the impression of not doing anything. Then all of the sudden, I’ve seen them catch a fish out their seeming inertia. It’s interesting about their foster parenting too. Nice wingspread and light.

  8. I don’t know how you do it! wow!!

  9. Lovely, Mia. I never see them in the air – this was a treat to see one airborne.

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