Unusual Visitor In Duquesne | Outside My Window


Yellow-crowned night-heron in Duquesne, PA (photo by Oliver Lindheim)

For the past several weeks a rare bird has shown up every evening at an industrial park in Duquesne, PA. The bird is outside his normal range, but this is not surprising for a juvenile yellow-crowned night-heron.

Yellow-crowned night-heron in Duquesne, PA, 18 Aug 2019 (photo by Amy Henrici)

Related to egrets and bitterns, yellow-crowned night-herons (Nyctanassa violacea) live near water and eat mostly crustaceans. Some live year round in Central and South America. Others breed in North America and migrate south for the winter as shown on the map below.

Range map of yellow-crowned night-heron, yellow is breeding range (map from Wikimedia Commons)

However, juvenile yellow-crowned night-herons are great wanderers. As Cornell Lab’s All About Birds explains, “After the breeding season, young birds often disperse to the north or west before heading to wintering grounds.” That’s how they end up in Newfoundland, North Dakota and Duquesne, PA.

At 4pm on Sunday August 18, I went to see him at the industrial park but he wasn’t there because (duh!) he’s a night-heron. So I went back at 7:20pm.

He attracted a small crowd. Five of us watched him roam the sidewalks and grass beneath the pine trees at American Textile Company. He was so unafraid of humans that he walked right past two people standing on the sidewalk. This bird is completely focused on cicadas.

Yellow-crowned night-heron in Duquesne, PA, 18 Aug 2019 (photo by Amy Henrici)

To give you an idea how close he came, here are photos from Oliver Lindheim (at top) and Amy Henrici, two of the many birders who’ve made the trek to Duquesne.

Yellow-crowned night-heron in Duquesne, PA, 18 Aug 2019 (photo by Amy Henrici)

As soon as the glut of cicadas is over, this bird will be on his way.

(photos by Oliver Lindheim and Amy Henrici)