Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Most of us are familiar with bird migration, the annual travel of various species from their wintering grounds to their breeding territory.  Generally this means they travel north in the spring and south in the fall.

But a few perform counter-intuitive post-breeding migrations . . . traveling in a direction that is difficult to explain.

Yellow-crowned Night-heron on Ellen’s Sunroom

A case in point is the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.  The Yellow-crowned is a medium sized bird that breeds as far north as New Jersey and winters as far south as Mexico.  My baby sister Ellen lives in Maryland and has these herons nesting in trees throughout her neighborhood.  

But for some reason . . . in late summer a handful of juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-herons leave Ellen’s backyard and travel to Maine, hundreds of miles outside their range.   Are they lost?  Are they looking for food?  Are they rebelling against over-domineering parents?  Did Ellen them about Maine Lobster Rolls?  No one knows exactly.

For the last month, Ingrid and I had been looking for these wayward birds and after more than a few wild heron chases (see what I did there?) we found one feeding on worms this morning in a tidal pool in Boothbay.

Maine Big Year Bird #293

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