The herons and egrets are wading birds with long necks and spear-like beaks. These birds possess powder down—feathers which grow continually and crumble into talc. This process is used to clean fish oils from their feathers.

Boat-Billed Heron

Cochlearius cochlearius

Habitat: Central and South American swamps and wetlands; favorite is mangrove

Diet in the wild: Mollusks, annelids, insect larvae, fish, amphibians, small rodents, eggs

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Capelin, dry dog food, soft-billed bird fare, mackerel

Size: 17-20 inches; 1-1½ pounds

Family: Mate for life

Status: Near threatened; numbers decreasing

Did you know? The boat-billed heron is nocturnal and has excellent night vision. Generally it will roost close to the ground during the day.

This heron has shorter legs and a squattier body than most herons, as well as that distinctive bill that looks much like an overturned row boat—great for scooping up dinner. And most unusual—the boat-billed heron’s chick has two egg teeth to break open its egg shell.

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

Nycticorax violaceus

Habitat: North, Central and South America

Diet in the wild: Aquatic prey, especially crustaceans, insects, fish, worms, small lizards, rodents and birds

Size: 21-27 inches; almost 1½-1¾ pounds (females usually smaller)

Family: Monogamous for a season. Social or solitary depending on food supplies.

Status: Least concern; is listed as endangered or threatened in certain areas of range

Did you know? It takes three years for a young yellow-crowned night heron to attain its adult plumage.

Generally this heron prefers marshes, wooded swamps or even lake shores where are bushes and trees to nest in (if not available, this heron will nest on rock ledges) and shallow water to make catching its prey easier. The yellow-crowned heron forages both during daylight and night, but seems to prefer to feed its young at night.

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