Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) by Mike Oxley

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Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) by 

Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

Cooper Marsh Conservation Area, Lancaster, Ontario, Canada
May 22, 2011

I was walking along the trail to the boardwalk and a little flash of movement caught my eye. A closer look and I saw this little heron hopping from branch to branch at the bottom of the bank. It finally stopped and started dipping its beak into the water. I moved the camera and tripod a number of times to try and get a clear shot through all the branches, but it was concentrating too much on the water. I made all kinds of subtle noises to get it to look up, but to no avail. Finally I tried that time tested trick known to all birders. I called out, “Jaysus! Are ye deef? Will you look at me when I’m trying to photograph you?” Seemed to work.

With thanks to

With a range that spans five continents, including much of North America, the Black-crowned Night-Heron is the most widespread heron in the world. It is most active at dusk and at night, feeding in the same areas that other heron species frequent during the day.

A few facts.

Young Black-crowned Night-Herons often disgorge their stomach contents when disturbed. This habit makes it easy to study its diet.

The Black-crowned Night-Heron may nest in the same tree with ibises or other herons.

Adult Black-crowned Night-Herons apparently do not distinguish between their own young and those from other nests, and will brood chicks not their own.


Various wetland habitats, including salt, brackish, and freshwater marshes, swamps, streams, lakes, and agricultural fields.


Aquatic invertebrates, fish, amphibians, lizards, snakes, rodents, eggs, and other foods.


Nest Description:

A platform of sticks placed in tree or cattails. Nests colonially; more than a dozen nests may be in a single tree.

Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 170 to 500 at 500 mm
iso 400, spot metered, F 6.3, 1/160 second


herons, wildfowl, waterfowl, birds, nature, ontario

In love with Ma Nature! Always have been, always will be. Let’s keep her safe, eh?

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  • stickelsimages
    stickelsimagesabout 3 years ago

    Spotted through the bushes Mike
    a very deaf wee heron!!!!
    Lovely capture mate
    was this another sunny day??
    Does this make it 5 days now????

  • Many thanks, Lee!
    The sun was trying very hard to come out. Sort of a weak effort, though, and it’s raining at the moment. There’s a surprise. Same thing tomorrow. And it’s a bloody holiday, too. Buggah.

    – Mike Oxley

  • PhotosByHealy
    PhotosByHealyabout 3 years ago

    Excellent capture, Buddy. Helps to have a lens that has reach. <Grin>


  • Much appreciated, Gene! That lens is a dandy, but it was pretty tricky trying to get the right angle without any branches obscuring things!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Jeannine St-Amour
    Jeannine St-Amourabout 3 years ago

    Good shot Mike…. they are so skittish.

  • Many thanks, Jeannine. I don’t think the wee chap even knew I was there, although he would look up every now and then in my general direction.

    – Mike Oxley

  • Bobby Dar
    Bobby Darabout 3 years ago

    So sweet work

  • Thanks so very much, Bobby!

    – Mike Oxley

  • joak
    joakabout 3 years ago

    ha ha a little scots magic does the trick..deef indeed!…are they smaller than oor herons ?

  • LOL! Many thanks, Joak. These wee buggers are aboot as big as a long leggedy rooster. Nae as big as your herons and a fair bit smaller than oor Great Blues. They birdies is big!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Valerie Anne Kelly
    Valerie Anne K...about 3 years ago

    w0w! fantastic capture sweetheART gorgeous – fave ;~} Valz

  • Thanks so very much for your lovely comment and the “fave”, too, Val! So greatly appreciated!

    – Mike Oxley

  • shallay
    shallayabout 3 years ago

    ha-ha – just love the story! It was the weak pun headline that drew me in… and you know, I have to be a little suspicious of the climax of your story…photographer’s license and all. Wonderful bird shot

  • LOL! Greatly appreciated, Shallay. There is a wee bit of photographer’s licence there. I just cleared my throat a couple of times and it blithely ignored me. Finally, it just looked up on it’s own accord, but don’t tell anyone, okay? I have to keep some mystique about my techniques!

    – Mike Oxley

  • artwhiz47
    artwhiz47about 3 years ago

    Och, aye. Och, ear. Great shot, Mike. I caught up with one making his way along the Niagara River bank, but up in the trees, 60 feet from the water. He was toooooo clever, that one, & he, too, looked at me when I talked to him. Never got a picture, though. Happy Victoria Day!

  • Many thanks, Sheila. There’s a channel that runs along the trail, on the other side of the marsh. It’s banks are heavily tree and brush covered (remember Woodhog?) and there are all kinds of wee treasures to be found down the bank at the water’s edge. Most of the birds use the channel as a type of speedway and go zooming up is length at great speed and with great fanfare. Many’s the photo opp miissed! Yesterday it was a beauty pair of hawks, just taking their time, but, once I got the Bigma all organized, they were in Ottawa, I think.

    – Mike Oxley

  • deb cole
    deb coleabout 3 years ago

    Great shot, Mike! He looks somewhat like the one I found last year. I had a hard time getting a good shot of that one as well. They’re very cammo-oriented, these birds! Nice to get a good look at one! Nicely done!

  • Thanks so very much, Deb. When I first spotted it, I wasn’t sure what it was, just a wee shadowy blur, but then it hopped from branch to branch until it was in a relatively clear spot. Still a lot of branches in the way until I finally got the right angle and, even then, it was more concerned with whatever was in the water!

    – Mike Oxley

  • kathy s gillentine
    kathy s gillen...about 3 years ago

    magnificent capture

  • Thanks so very much, Kathy, and my apologies for such a late reply!

    – Mike Oxley

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