"Four of a Kind"

Black-crowned Night Heron

black-crowned night herons

        If you are dealt four of a kind in a game of cards, you need to keep a straight face and raise the bet . . . because four of a kind hardly ever happens.

        We were dealt a hand like this on our last Audubon Field Trip. Our first stop of the day was at the beautiful pond at Stone Bridge. Everyone was scanning the pond for birds except our fearless leader Kevin Wheeler, and he was watching the surrounding trees and shrubbery. Wow! There were four Black-crowned Night Herons asleep in a large tree next to the pond. What a find! This Heron forages primarily at night, and that makes for a sleepy bird in daylight. Most everyone sees the Great Blue Heron throughout it’s daily activity, but did you know, Night Herons hunt the same habitat in the hours of darkness? The Black-crowned Night Heron comes equipped with his own fencing foil for hunting prey from the size of minnows up to bullfrogs. The Heron’s resting posture is hunched, but when hunting, the neck is extended and it looks like other wading birds.

        The Night Heron breeds on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. It is one of the most common herons, and found in many types of wetland habitats, including golf courses. Wetlands on golf courses are similar to wildlife refuges, a fact that birds are quick to recognize. Birds soon understand that they are safe - as no one carries a shotgun on a golf course. This bird is pretty fussy where he sleeps in the day, so finding this Heron could be a challenge. Who knows, maybe you will be dealt ‘four of a kind’ some day.

        Marilyn Davis is the artist. If you have questions about birds, Herons, or Red Cliff Audubon activities, call 435 673-0996.


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