Thursday, December 15, 2011

Catching the red eye

This black crowned night heron was sleeping soundly in a tree by the Reifel Island warming shed, but I made too much racket, and he opened a bloodshot eye to glare at me.

Sorry about that. I'll go away quietly now.

His scientific name, Nycticorax nycticorax, translates as "Night raven night raven";  repeated twice, emphasizing that he really, really appreciates being left to sleep in the daytime. He works the night shift, hunting the same grounds as our great blue herons do in daylight, catching frogs, fish, crustaceans and other small animals.

He's not a raven, but got the name, doubled, because his call is like a crow's. Listen to it here. (Cornell "All about Birds")

From Cornell's "Cool Facts":
Young Black-crowned Night-Herons often disgorge their stomach contents when disturbed. This habit makes it easy to study its diet. ...
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.

1 comment:

  1. Great shot! =) Interesting stuff. They are different creatures, for sure. I volunteered years ago to hold a sheet below a heron rookery as someone in a (mechanical) crane reached for herons (obv. part of a colony monitoring program) and we saw many things yacked up, including rats (!). And we all wore helmets. =)

    I love that picture and your probably v. accurate interpretation. =)


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