Black-Crowned Night-Heron

Nycticorax Nycticorax

Scientific Name

Black-Crowned Night-Heron:  
Nycticorax Nycticorax

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

Black-Crowned Night Herons are found across North America from Washington, south through Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Some winter as far north a Oregon.

Natural Habitat

Black-Crowned Night Herons inhabit wetlands, including estuaries, marshes, streams, lakes and reservoirs.

Physical Characteristics

  • Black-Crowned Night Herons are medium sized, stocky and compact compared to their long-limbed heron relatives. They have short, thick necks, and shorter legs as compared to the Yellow-Crowned Night Herons. Their bills are heavy and black. As its name suggests, the adult Black-Crowned Night Heron has a glossy, black cap that extends down the upper back, while the rest of the body plumage generally ranges from white to ashy grey. The nape is adorned with two to three long, white plumes reaching up to 25 cm in the breeding season. Their wings are broad and rounded. They have excellent eyesight that aide in hunting. The adults are 25 inches long and weigh 28 ounces. The species uses a crow-like call for vocalizing.

Quick Facts

  1. Black Crowned Night Herons have thicker neck, bill and shorter legs than their other heron relatives. 

  2. Black Crowned Night Herons are nocturnal, something not common with other herons.

  3. Black-Crowned Night Herons nest in large colonies, often with several different species of herons.


M&T Bank Rainforest Falls

Conservation Status

Least Concern: The Black-Crowned Night-Heron is common or abundant and is likely to survive in the wild.

Help Us End Extinction

Adoption is simple. Show how much you care about animals all year round by selecting your favorite animal from our adoption list.



Black-Crowned Night Herons are opportunistic feeders. They eat fish,
snakes, amphibians, small rodents, and chicks of other birds. Although a gregarious species, they generally forage alone.