Brian Zhong, Millstone River School
Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
Hi, I’m Henry, the yellow-crowned night heron, or Nyctanssa violacea.
From my name you might think I am nocturnal, I am actually active day and night. But I do have a yellowish-white crown. My body is 2 feet long with a wingspan of 4 feet. I have a black bill, red eyes, yellow legs and a slate gray body. You can also see a white streak on the side of my face. During breeding season, a white plume of feathers grows on my head.
I’m standing here waiting for prey to come which is mainly crustaceans such as crabs and crayfish. But I also eat fish, frogs and lizards. Sometimes I wade in the shallow water and slowly stalk my prey, then snatch it with my sword-like bill.
Our habitat is wooded swamps, water marshes and thickets. My home is a nest of sticks in a tree. My wife and I built it together. She laid 4 eggs about three weeks ago. We incubated the eggs in turns. Little chicks came out yesterday. They look adorable. I need to work hard to feed them. By the way, we feed them our regurgitated food, or vomit. It’s not disgusting. The chicks think it’s yummy.
We are threatened species in New Jersey. Our habitat gets lost due to aggressive development in the shores. People used to kill us for our feathers. But I heard people are trying to document our nesting habitats so that they can protect us and our offspring. Many organizations are teaching people to understand the importance to preserve the endangered and threatened species. It will be wonderful if our names are removed from the threatened list one day.
Shhh, I think a crab is sneaking around. Got to catch it or my wife will be mad at me. So long!
Written by : Brian Zhong
Millstone River School, Plainsboro
Teacher: Mrs. Barbara Osburn