On recent visits to Centerhill Lake there have been some really good birdwatching opportunities. Sightings include Prothonotary Warbler, Barn Swallows, Purple Martins, Great blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Green Heron, Bald eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Wood Thrush, and the bird we will focus on this week, the Black-crowned Night Heron.
The Black-crowned Night Heron is a stocky, short legged bird most often seen in marshes, and along shorelines of rivers and lakes. They have a black back and cap which is in stark contrast to its gray wings and white underparts. Seen through binoculars you will see its red eyes. The legs are yellowish to yellow-green. During breeding you might be fortunate to see the long white head plumes on display. Their vocalization is a short flat “quok”.
Perhaps these herons are not seen as routinely as other species because they are mostly inactive during the day, often just sitting in a hunched over posture. It was in this posture that I first sighted the birds on a power line extending to the boat dock. They become active around dusk to feed, hunting for fish and other aquatic life.
During the breeding season both male and female take part in nest building, and interestingly, the male assumes some of the incubation duties and care for the young after hatching. A clutch usually consists of between 3 and 5 eggs.
Keep your eyes open and your binoculars handy. Wherever you find yourself recreating there will likely be some interesting birds.