An Amazing Transformation: The Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron of Florida

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Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Photo: Kelly Dean

An Amazing Transformation: The Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron of Florida

By Kelly Dean

The great thing about being young is it’s an opportunity to truly be yourself, to express your innermost feelings and reflect those feelings in how you look physically. But this isn’t exclusive to human beings. Mother Nature provides for kids to be quite unique from their parents as well — it seems.

Such is the case with the Florida Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron.  I’ll just call it night heron for now, even though there is a black-crowned variety too. The young version of this bird looks very little like its older parents. The young yellow-crowned actually looks more like the black-crowned adolescent than the adults of its own kind.

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Young Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, Photo: Kelly Dean

In the picture above, the juvenile night heron has none of the unique facial markings of the adult. The body markings are somewhat different as well.

In fact, sometimes the parents don’t exactly look like other parents of its kind. The yellow-crowned variety is known for its starkly contrasting white and black facial markings. Well, the adult example below shows the face can have an awesome mix of light brown and black, rather than the usual black and white face.

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Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, Photo: Kelly Dean

As you can see, the juvenile looks unique from the parent, with overall spots, no tufts, and no contrasting facial markings – just freckles.

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Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, Photo: Kelly Dean

Meanwhile, the adult has clear facial markings, fewer spots and a nice little tuft on the head. I wish I had a tuft.

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Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, Photo: Kelly Dean

I’m sure if I were philosophical, I’d find some lesson in all this, but I’m not that deep.

Night-herons are named for their propensity for foraging for food day and night, mostly shallow crustaceans and shellfish, like crabs and clams.

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