A piece of St Martin Wild Life – The yellow-crowned night heron

Mark YOKOYAMA
Par Mark YOKOYAMA 29 Août 2013 11:19

A piece of St Martin Wild Life – The yellow-crowned night heron

Fashions of the Crab-eater

The yellow-crowned night heron (Nycticorax violacea) is a secretive bird that spends most of its days hiding in the mangroves. At night, it hunts on our salt ponds and is especially fond of crab. For this reason, it is also called the crab-eater or crabier. 

The night heron breeds on St. Martin, building a large, flat nest hidden in the bushes. I have seen nests on Pinel Island and Petite Caye, and there are surely more hidden in the mangroves around the island. Usually several pairs will nest near each other, and often nests are reused each year.

This bird is distinctive, with a thick bill and stocky body. Its plumage – the color of its feathers – changes each year as it grows up. For the first year, the night heron is brown with small white spots. During the second year it begins to look more like an adult, with a gray body, black head and white stripe below its eye. Finally, during the third year, it will develop the yellow or white crown on the top of its head. 

The yellow-crowned night heron - First Year

The yellow-crowned night heron – First Year

The yellow-crowned night heron - Second Year

The yellow-crowned night heron – Second Year

The yellow-crowned night heron - Adult

The yellow-crowned night heron – Adult

You can find the yellow-crowned night heron on our salt ponds, particularly amongst the mangroves. They also hunt in the water-filled ditches on the roadside from time to time, or even on the beach at night. In the photos, you can see the first-year, second-year and adult night herons.

Mark YOKOYAMA
Par Mark YOKOYAMA 29 Août 2013 11:19
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