Coyote Point, San Mateo County, California
23 July 2002
The bird was in a fresh-water marsh southeast of the Yacht Club parking lot. Eventually the bird walked into the channel at the southwest corner of the marsh and disappeared. We had the bird in view for about an hour. Views were through scopes and binoculars. The following description is based on notes made while watching the bird:
A medium sized heron, larger than nearby Snowy Egret.
The head was black with a white crown, suffused with cream-color on the forehead and two dark-gray spots on either side of the mid-crown. A white stripe extended from below the eye toward the nape on each side of the head.. Short, spiky white plumes extended back from the nape. The bill was dagger shaped, blue-gray at the base, with a black stripe near the tip of the lower mandible. The mouth lining was deep, crimson red. Scraggly whitish feathering extended from the chin forward between the lower mandibular rami.
The body was dark-gray with a coffee-brown suffusion down the middle of the chest and on the upper back. Some pale-gray mottling was also evident on the lower breast. The back was dark gray, but the wing coverts and scapulars were neatly fringed in pale gray. However, the mid-scapulars were edged with brownish.
The legs were orange from the base to just below the ankle joints where they turned blackish, probably from the black muck in which the bird was foraging.
This is the second Yellow-crowned Night-Heron I have seen in San Mateo County. The first was a second-year bird in 1981 at Año Nuevo. An additional photo taken by Siobhan Ruck is here.