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

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 Herons 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.



  1. Linda Rockwell July 11, 2012 at 8:39 pm

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

    • Mia McPherson July 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      Thanks Linda, I appreciate your comment.

  2. Carol Mattingly July 10, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    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

    • Mia McPherson July 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm

      Carol, they do look bigger in flight, that might be because of the size of their wingspread. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Stu July 10, 2012 at 4:34 pm

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

  4. Julie G. July 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    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!

    • Mia McPherson July 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      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. syl July 10, 2012 at 9:48 am

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

    • Mia McPherson July 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm

      Thank you Syl, I hope you have an awesome weekend.

  6. Tammy Karr July 10, 2012 at 9:24 am

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

    • Mia McPherson July 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      Thanks Tammy, they are great subjects!

  7. M. Firpi July 10, 2012 at 6:15 am

    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.

    • Mia McPherson July 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      Thank you Maria, they can stand as still as a statue and then”bam” they have prey in their bill.

  8. judy watson July 10, 2012 at 6:13 am

    I don’t know how you do it! wow!!

  9. Kathleen Finnerty July 10, 2012 at 5:41 am

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

    • Mia McPherson July 13, 2012 at 2:42 pm

      Thank you Kath, in Florida they did seem more content to just perch rather than fly as I recall.

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