Black-Crowned Night Heron

Black-Crowned Night Herons are not rare visitors to Metro Vancouver, but only a handful of adults plus one or two juveniles are seen from fall through spring, sleeping the day away at the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island. Interestingly, we did spot an adult in a tree in the Boundary Bay Wildlife Management Area earlier this year (currently the only recorded sighting of a BCNH outside of Reifel).

an adult BCNH getting ready for a full night of foraging
f/8, 1/800, 500mm, ISO 250

The striking red eyes of the adults (juveniles have pale yellow eyes) distinguish them from their larger, more ubiquitous cousin, the Great Blue Heron. They are called Night Herons because of their nocturnal natures; it was unusual and serendipitious to get the individual in the photo above with its eyes open. Photographed on December 29, 2015.



38 thoughts on “Black-Crowned Night Heron

    • thank you, Lena! it’s not easy to get a closeup of a Black-Crowned Night Heron in Metro Vancouver … they tend to stick to trees (not marshes!) here. 🙂 this adult was 30-40 feet away.

      Liked by 1 person

    • thanks, Brian! the BCNHs we get in Metro Vancouver tend to stick to trees as opposed to marshes (although there is water underneath this tree). since they forage at night and spend most of their time sleeping in the day here, I have yet to photograph one actually hunting nocturnally. 🙂


  1. Great photo! You’re right about the eyes. I believe I caught a couple of these in a tree above a river path. I noticed a ton of bird poop below and looked up. I sent my pic to the local paper and the weather man identified them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • that’s Heron hunting behaviour for you. the Great Blue Herons employ the same strategy when fishing … misleads the prey into thinking that nothing is there, and then the sudden strike.


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