Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Will someone please check the weather channel and verify that it is almost June? Today, it was overcast and 65F at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest! With the misting rain, it felt much cooler than that. The weather kept some of the Multiple Sclerosis Support Group from making the trip to the swamp and kept all but three reptiles (all turtles) from appearing. Even the birds seemed to be taking off the day.

With the low water levels, the Yellow-crowned Night Herons (Nyctanassa violacea) could not afford to take off a day. The crayfish are easy targets in the shallow pools of water for all sorts of predators and the sole diet item for the herons. The upper bodies of the crayfish litter the mud, handrails, and fallen logs throughout the swamp testifying to the ease at which they can be captured and consumed by Raccoons (Procyon lotor). Raccoons do not waste time with anything but the meaty crayfish tail. The Yellow-crowned Night Herons consume the crayfish whole after some judicious crunching with their large, powerful bill.

Joe Kegley captured on video a successful Yellow-crowned Night Heron near the boardwalk.

Image by Mark Musselman

No comments: