Wild Heron at the Living Coast Discovery Center

Yellow-crowned Night Heron Delights Staff and Guests Alike

IMG_1643Located as we are on the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, there are hundreds of wild animals to be seen. And birds of a feather, flock together! In this case, it’s shorebirds.

One such animal is a wild Night Heron that is in a particularly interesting stage of development. Molting is to birds as Middle School is to American teenagers: a little awkward. This wild bird has been seen hanging around outside of the Shorebird Aviary throughout the day.

Our Executive Director, Ben Vallejos, witnessed the heron using a stick to “herd” fish into a corner of the outer pond, where they might be easier to catch, and our Education Specialist, YogaElizabeth Argyle, swore she saw him doing what looked like a yoga pose one morning to sun himself. Our own resident birder, Jeanne, was confused about whether this bird was a Yellow-crowned Night Heron, a Black-crowned Night Heron, or some new combination of the two.

She emailed a few specialists in the area and Philip Unitt, the Editor of Western Birds, had this to say: “It’s a one-year-old bird in the middle of molt. The plumage pattern and head, neck, and bill shape all look standard for a Yellow-crowned Night Heron to me. This bird could be one of last year’s progeny of the pair of the Yellow-crowned nesting in Imperial Beach. Very nice!”

So the mystery of the Night Heron has been solved. If you’d like to see wild animals along with the animals in our care, we’re open every day from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Check out the great photos of the Yellow-crowned Night Heron, below.