This photograph by Kathy Kelly is of a Black-crowned Night Heron. Taken in late afternoon along a swampy stretch of Maryland's C and O Canal, this fellow stepped lightly along a narrow log.
These funny looking birds do not fit the typical graceful form of the Heron family.
Night Herons are relatively stocky in build with shorter bills, legs, and necks than their more common cousins the egrets and "day" herons. Their resting posture is normally somewhat hunched.
The Black-crowned Night Heron breeds on every continent except Australia and Antarctica and prefer wetland habitats including riparian forests, wooded swamps, marshes, mangroves, and even occasionally grasslands or rice fields.
Herons feed primarily on fish, but also take eggs and young of other birds, amphibians, small mammals, crabs, mollusks, and other invertebrates. They forage primarily at night or in the early morning.
Like other wetlands species, the Black-crowned Night Heron is sensitive to water-quality change...