There is something about Black-crowned Night Herons that I find magical. They are dressed in black tuxedo, white shirt, gray vest, and with a saucy a feather in their black cap. They steal along the edges of moving water, sometimes standing still as a statue, before deftly and silently snagging a meal from the water. It can be a fish, a mollusk, a crawfish; really anything that floats or swims by.
Unlike the Great Blue Heron that makes such an imposing figure standing in the middle of the river – so tall and fancily dressed in blue and white with red streaked neck and chest – you have to look a little harder to find the smaller Black-crowned Night Heron. The black and white and gray feathers can fool you into thinking it is just a rock on the shoreline. She does have elegant yellow legs though.
I wait for them to return in late spring, signaling that all is right with the river. When the night herons are back, l look for goslings, and ducklings, and Great Horned owlets leaving the nest.
On my morning walks I’ve noticed Bullocks Orioles, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Western Kingbirds and Gray Catbirds tending their nests. Sometimes I can hear hatchlings begging for food from deep in the trees leafy branches.
This is a splendid time of year!