Black-crowned Night-heron

Observers along the Maine coast may encounter the reclusive Black-crowned Night-heron. This heron species is most active during
the evening and night (hence the name). They inhabit swamps, marshes, and the edges of rivers, streams, lakes, and lagoons with fresh, salt, or brackish waters during the breeding season. Nest sites are selected by males and are typically constructed by the pair in a small tree over water. These birds give guttural, bark-like “Quock” calls while perched or in flight. Pairs have a distinct vocalization when a partner returns to the nest with food (“Woc-a-woc, woc, woc, wock-a-woc”), however, vocalizations are only rarely heard. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed their young upon hatching. Young beg for food with a distinct and persistent “Yak! Yak! Yak!” vocalization.

Safe Dates: May 1st to August 1st (applicable for only the S or H codes).


Breeding Evidence:

The secretive and nocturnal
nature of this species means breeding behaviors are only
rarely observed. Consequently, all potential breeding
records should be carefully documented. Should a colony site be located, observers may see pairs working to construct their nests (code NB). Visiting the colonies later in the season increases the chances of observing incubating adults on nests (code ON) or nests with young (code NY), but note that we strongly discourage closely approaching or disturbing nesting birds.

Image courtesy of Logan Parker

Audio courtesy of Stanislas Wroza.

© 2019 Logan Parker

The Maine Nightjar Monitoring Project is a part of the Maine Natural History Observatory