The smallest and most secretive North American heron. Mostly dark above and orangish buff to cream below. Yellow eyes, lores and bill. Distinct whitish stripes on dark shoulders. Yellow legs with long toes. Adult male: glossy, black crown, back, rump, and tail. Face, sides of neck, and upper flanks orangish buff. Darker brown edges and tips of wings. White chin, throat and foreneck are streaked with orangish-buff stripes. White belly. Adult female: similar to male, but browner back. Juvenile: similar to adult female but browner head, sides of neck, and patterned brown wings. Dark brown back, rump and tail. White neck striped in brown bold streaks. On adults, the orangish buff upper wing coverts contrast sharply with the dark flight feathers. The unique peachy-colored wing patch is conspicuous in flight. Juveniles show a less striking patch.
Length: 33 (cm) Wingspan: 43 (cm)
Alarm or contact call: quock. Call: kek-kek-kek-kek, like a rail. Song: low pitched coo coo coo coo.
Marshes with dense vegetation. Includes mangroves.
Extremely secretive, more often heard than seen. When flushed, typically flies a short distance before disappearing back into the vegetation. Freezes by standing tall and pointing bill skyward, camouflaging with grasses to avoid detection. Forages by stalking, then grabbing prey.
Diet consists of insects, small fish, invertebrates, amphibians, snakes and small mammals.
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