Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron

Nyctanassa violacea
Range Map

This bird is resident along the shores of coastal Mexico. On the Pacific, it ranges south to the equator. On the Atlantic and Caribbean, we find it from the Gulf Coast south to southern Brazil. Their dietary specialty is crabs and other crustaceans.

Science recognizes six subspecies of this heron:

  • N. v. violacea lives in central and eastern USA, eastern Mexico and along Caribbean coast to Costa Rica; winters south to West Indies and Panama
  • N. v. bancrofti lives on the Pacific coast from northwestern Mexico to Nicaragua, West Indies and Bahamas, and recently found breeding in southern California
  • N. v. gravirostris lives on islands off the west Mexican coast, including Isla Socorro
  • N. v. caliginis lives in Panama and western Colombia to northwestern Peru, and on islands west of Costa Rica
  • N. v. cayennensis lives in northeastern Panama, Colombia and Venezuela to coastal northern and eastern Brazil
  • N. v. pauper lives on the Galapagos Islands

I’ve enjoyed meeting these birds in San Diego (California), south Texas, and on islands off the coast of Baja California (Mexico). The birds I met in Baja California were most likely winter visitors. I captured my favorite images at Estero Llano Grande State Park in south Texas.

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