Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Black-crowned Night Herons, Late March Migration to Northern Illinois

A Black-crowned Night Heron; you can see its white plumes sticking out the sides of its head; South Pond, Lincoln Park, Chicago; 3/30/2011.
I was in Chicago at Lincoln Park on March 30, this Spring and was surprised to see a Black-crowned Night Heron (Above) sitting in a tree at South Pond. There was even a sign asdvertising BC Night Herons, and I thought perhaps it was a permanent resident - why else, I thought, would there be a sign about them, without gauranteeing that they would show up. Although most bird books will list Black-crowned Night Herons as summer residents of Illinois, they have been a rare sighting over the past few years. A couple of weeks later, I was reading on the IBET boards that more BC-N. Herons were viewed at South Pond. Then I did some more reading and found out that last spring (2010), a zoologist from Chicago was pleasantly surprised when he noticed one nesting in a tree near South Pond in Lincoln Park, one of the busiest places in Chicago. Soon the one turned into several, then to dozens, and before the Spring ended there were over 200 nesting Black-crowned Night Herons at South Pond. It turned out that the one I saw was one of four early arrivals and again like last Spring, hundreds more soon followed. see the link below to a website with the story and some great pics of all the nests ...

and   http://www.ilbirds.com/index.php?topic=48197.0

A Black-crowned Night Heron, Kaui, Hawaii; 7/10/2008.
Other than Chicago, I have seen these Herons up at Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin, and couple of years ago I saw many of them in Hawaii (Above). Here in the contiguous States, BC N. Herons can be found in several areas: The West Coast, Midwest, East Coast, Southeast and Southwest. They get their names because they do their hunting and foraging mainly at night. (Below) is a photo of a BC-N. Heron searching for prey at a small waterfall near the hotel I was staying at in Kaui.

A Black-crowned Night Heron hunting in the evening light, Kaui, Hawaii; 7/9/2008.

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