Black-Crowned Night Heron

Basic Information:

Scientific Name: Nycticorax nycticorax

Habitat: Black-Crowned Night Herons can be found across most of the world in marshes, swamps, streams, and lakes.

Diet: Black-Crowned Night Herons are known to eat aquatic invertebrates, fish, reptiles, amphibians, rodents, and eggs. 

Size: 1.8 to 2.2 feet tall / 3.5 to 4 foot wingspan

Weight: 1.5 to 2.2 pounds

Lifespan: 3 to 5 years in the wild / 20 to 30 years in human care 

Distribution Map:

I.U.C.N. Conservation Status:

What does this mean?

Least Concern – a species determined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (I.U.C.N.) to be pervasive, abundant, and thriving.

Our Black-Crowned Night Heron:

Roman (Male) – Born May 1989

About Black-Crowned Night Herons:

This short and stocky species of heron may look a little less impressive than its taller, more majestic cousins such as the Great Blue Herons, but they are actually the most widespread species of heron in the world. Being native to all continents apart from Australia and Antarctica, these birds often populate waterways in large colonies that can range into the hundreds. They get their name primarily from their most active time of day – between evening and early morning – where they spend a lot of their time ambushing whatever food that they can. Consequently, they are known as opportunistic feeders due to their diet which consists of everything from fish and leeches to clams and crayfish to lizards and snakes to other birds and their eggs. 

Did You Know?!

  • Black-Crowned Night Herons are colony nesters, using a platform of sticks for their nests. There may be as many as a dozen nests from one colony in a single tree!
  • Because of their widespread distribution and feeding habits, the Black-Crowned Night Heron is an excellent indicator of ecosystem health.
  • Black-Crowned Night Herons primarily hunt at night and are often found waiting at the water’s edge to ambush their prey. 

The Utica Zoo will be closed at 1:00pm on 6/1 for wine in the wilderness and will reopen with normal hours on 6/2!