A Drowsy Night-Heron

By josh • Nature, Wildlife • 7 Aug 2013

My lunchtime jaunt to Burlington’s Intervale yesterday was rewarded with excellent views of a Black-Crowned Night-Heron, a species that is uncommon in Vermont and rarely found outside the Champlain Valley.  Anecdotal evidence would suggest that they’re becoming more readily observed in our neighborhood (like Great Egrets), though they’re declining across much of their range and have struggled with environmental problems caused by Double-Crested Cormorants on the Lake Champlain islands that both species use to breed.

Black-Crowned Night-Heron

Black-Crowned Night-Heron
Intervale, Burlington, Vermont
August, 2013
Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/10, 1/400s, ISO125

This particular bird, likely trying to live up to its name, must have been out with the lads a bit too late Monday night night (NB: I don’t actually know the sex of this individual).  Standing on a log near the middle of a small pond, the heron repeatedly dozed off, giving me few opportunities for behavior photos during the half-hour I had to watch it.

Getting sleepy…

Black-Crowned Night-Heron

Black-Crowned Night-Heron
Intervale, Burlington, Vermont
August, 2013
Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/7.1, 1/400s, ISO125

And, out like a light.

Black-Crowned Night-Heron

Black-Crowned Night-Heron
Intervale, Burlington, Vermont
August, 2013
Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/7.1, 1/400s, ISO125

Just before I packed up to leave, though, I got a little joy.  Perhaps feeling plain in relation to its more extravagantly plumed cousins, the Night-Heron twirled in a dainty, slow motion pirouette.

Black-Crowned Night-Heron

Black-Crowned Night-Heron
Intervale, Burlington, Vermont
August, 2013
Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/5.6, 1/400s, ISO125

Then a plié, maintaining the lovely head turn.

Black-Crowned Night-Heron

Black-Crowned Night-Heron
Intervale, Burlington, Vermont
August, 2013
Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/5.6, 1/400s, ISO125

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