In late winter Leonard and I begin to await the arrival of the migratory birds. It is always fun to note the return of each species, both those that breed in our area and those that pass through on their way to more northern summer homes. Spring cannot be too far behind once the earliest migrants are sighted.
The black-crowned night herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) are back! I saw two adults and at least two juveniles in a ponderosa pine along Hat Creek below Hydro Plant 1 (Lassen County CA). The adults are light grey with a distinctive black crown and black back. Juveniles are brown with white streaking and spots.
Black-crowned night herons winter in the coastal and southern regions of North America and Central America. There are also South American populations.
Black-crowned night herons, true to their name, forage in the evening and at night, concealing themselves amid tree leaves and foliage during the day. They are difficult to see. If these birds had not moved a little when I passed, they would have remained undetected.