07.03.22: Heron and swamp

A Black-crowned Night Heron stands above a swamp in Six Mile Cypress Slough, Fort Myers, Fla.

A Black-crowned Night Heron stands above a swamp in Six Mile Cypress Slough, Fort Myers, Fla.

Night Heron in daytime? A snack before bed

Night herons, as the name implies, do most of their feeding and foraging at night. They spend much of the day hidden among leaves and branches near the water, sleeping while other herons are hunting. 

When I think of herons I always think of the long-limbed, long-necked varieties like the Great Blue Heron, the Tri-colored Heron or the Little Blue Heron. These birds are like the graceful, better-known supermodels of the heron world.

But that world also includes stocky, less graceful heron varieties like the Black-crowned Night Heron (in this photo), the Yellow-crowned Night Heron or the Green Heron. Unlike their long-legged, long-necked cousins, these herons have shorter legs and are usually seen with their necks tucked into their bodies, which creates a hunchback appearance. Night herons are 22 to 26 inches long, much shorter than the Great Blue Heron that stands 40 to 55 inches tall.

I found this Black-crowned Night Heron perched on a tree root above the swamp in Six Mile Cypress Slough in Fort Myers, Fla. It was focused on the swamp, motionless.

Night herons, as the name implies, do most of their feeding and foraging at night. They spend much of the day hidden among leaves and branches near the water, sleeping while other herons are hunting. That’s the reason why Black-crowned or Yellow-crowned Night Herons aren’t seen as often as other herons, even though the birds are common in wetlands areas across the United States.

Almost every photo I have of night herons, either the Yellow-crowned or Black-crowned variety, show them sitting in trees at rest during the day. The heron in this photo was likely looking for one last snack before finding a spot to sleep.

Tech specs

  • Date/time: Feb 9, 2017 8:28 AM   
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Lens: EF600mm f/4L IS USM 
  • Focal length: 600mm
  • Aperture: f/4
  • Shutter: 1/1000 second
  • ISO: 2000

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