Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
STATUS: Much less common then black-crowned night-heron.
HABITAT: Inhabits both freshwater and saltwater habitats, usually lush river swamps but also tidal flats, stagnant backwaters or bayous of large cypress swamps, mangrove swamps, or dry, rocky, almost waterless areas on certain islands.
SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Wooded swamps.
NEST: Nests in small to large colonies, sometimes with black-crowned, little blue, tricolored, and great blue herons, or singly, in trees or bushes and sometimes on the ground. Often nests in willows close to water, in mangroves, or in baldcypresses, usually 15 to 20 feet above ground.
FOOD: Hunts at night but also frequently by day. Unlike other herons, rarely takes fishes, but feeds largely on crustaceans, mainly crayfish, and land and fiddler crabs. Also eats mussels, frogs, aquatic insects, snails, small snakes, lizards, leeches, and terrapins.
REFERENCES: Low and Mansell 1983, Palmer 1962, Sykes in Farrand 1983a, Terres 1980.