Species Spotlight – Yellow Crowned Night Heron
The yellow-crowned night heron is a wading bird commonly found in South Florida year-round. Unlike other night herons, they are active during the day as well as at night. They spend most of their time foraging for crustaceans in shallow wetlands and wet fields, such as coastal marshes and mangroves and most foraging occurs within three hours before or after high tide. The timing of their breeding season relies largely on the life cycle of the crabs they feast on. Yellow-crowned night herons form socially monogamous pairs, which may be maintained from year to year. The parents work together to build a nest, which takes an average of 10 days to complete. Both parents incubate the eggs for a period of about 25 days. The newly hatched babies are covered in white or gray down and have their eyes closed but open them after just one day. About 40 days after hatching, the chick will start to venture off although it returns to the nest to be fed for another three weeks. The juvenile stage of this bird is characterized by brown plumage with white spots. It takes about two years for the young bird to acquire its adult plumage.