Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Black-Crowned Night Herons

Finally, after what feels like months without adding a bird to my year list, I saw a new bird tonight.  And, it was a life bird!

I joined the Forbush Bird Club for their field trip to look for night herons at Leesville Pond in Worcester, MA.  We met at All Faiths' Cemetery, where I immediately mis-identified an Eastern Kingbird as a Baltimore Oriole.  It was very orange looking because of the setting sun!  Amateur.

Alan M. (who couldn't join the field trip but had just stopped by to see the new president) reported having just seen four night herons over at Notre Dame Cemetery, so we got in our cars and headed over there, not wanting to miss them.  Our anticipation was high.  We spread out and searched high and low but couldn't see any.  The longer we were there, the more we began to doubt Alan's sightings (jokingly only!).

Then, just as we started losing daylight, someone  in a nearby neighborhood set off some fireworks, and a night heron flew across the pond (but not near us) and landed out of sight behind some shrubs.  After a few minutes, though, it flew right toward us and landed on a snag and gave us all good views. It was a Black-Crowned Night Heron.

Soon after that, a noisy train went by and three more Black-Crowned Night Herons flew out of the trees right near us and crossed the pond.  One landed on a snag near our shore and gave good views.  By this time, it was getting very dark and we didn't want to get locked in, so we left.

I took a record photo, but it is very poor quality due to the low light conditions.  Still, I think it will give you an idea of what the bird looks like.

All About Birds states that this is the most widespread heron in the world.  It is active at dusk and at night and feeds in the same areas that other herons do during the day.  If you go to their link, you'll see a much better picture of one than what I was able to get!

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