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Re: An odd night-heron

As there is only this one photo, it is difficult to determine whether this heavily-worn, one-year-old bird is either a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (YCNH), or a hybrid with Black-crowned (BCNH). Given that the preformative molt is "similar" in these night-herons (Pyle 2008), whatever seems odd in the molt-timing of this bird should be equally odd for both species. I was able to find photos online of YCNH of a similar age lacking streaks on the chest, and of BCNH of a similar age sporting them. The broad bill devoid of yellow, the tapered shape of the incoming secondary coverts (prebasic-2)and the long tarsi are pro-YCNH, but I suspect photos of this bird in postures other than this dozing pose are necessary before determining whether it might be a hybrid.

As a sidenote, I found it interesting that a breeding-colony study in Virginia found that one- and two-year-olds night-herons (YCNH, anyway) occasionally breed (usually females that are typically paired with 'adult' birds). Link:

Jim Pike
Huntington Beach   

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports