I was able to photograph this Yellow-crowned Night-Heron a couple of days ago while at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. I was watching a couple of these birds that were too far away to photograph when this one flew close to me. It began catching Crayfish and preparing them to swallow. This Yellow-crowned Night-Heron would toss the Crayfish, so that it could get it in a position to smash the body. Smashing the body of the Crayfish with its beak would get rid of the legs and pincers. This Yellow-crowned Night-Heron tossed this Crayfish several times before it got it just right for swallowing.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Eating CrayfishYellow-crowned Night-Heron at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma
It takes about three years for yellow-crowned night herons to acquire the full physical appearance of adults. Before that, the young birds show signs of immaturity such as a brownish body, an overall greyish head, drab colors and spots and streaks on their plumage.
Although the adults are easy to tell apart, juvenile yellow-crowned night heron can look very similar to juvenile black-crowned night heron. Yellow-crowned juveniles tend to stand straighter and have heavier bills and longer legs, and their spots and streaks are finer than those of the black-crowned.
The yellow-crowned night heron looks for shallow water to live in: marshes, wooded swamps, and lake-shores for inland populations, and thickets, mangroves and cliff-bound coasts for coastal populations. It can also be found in areas that don’t always have enough water, but that get flooded on a regular basis. Its habitat is closely linked to that of the crustaceans that make for most of its diet, and it tolerates fresh water, brackish water and saltwater.