If you're looking for a bird with attitude, look no further: the black-crowned night heron, or ‘Auku‘u is the one for you. First of all, they're big - with a wingspan around four feet and a stocky, barrel-chested body that would be comical if it wasn't for the intensity with which they carry themselves. Their movements are deliberate and it is easy to get mesmerized by their focused, stealthy approach to hunting. They patrol wetlands and sometimes backyard ponds, often seen motionless as they wait to ambush their prey with a lightning-quick thrust of the neck. Dinner for these birds is a smorgasbord of frogs, fish, small rodents, crustaceans, and the chicks of other wetland residents. The bird in the picture above was sneaking up on a nest of koloa maoli ducklings. Though their relatives on the mainland are night hunters, this subspecies (Nycticorax nycticorax hoactli) is diurnal. The female is similar looking, though smaller. The juvies are brown-streaked. A great place to go and see them is Hamakua Marsh, where you also get treated to sightings of the Hawaiian coot (‘Alae Ke‘oke‘o ), the Hawaiian moorhen (‘Alae ‘Ula), and maybe even the Hawaiian black-necked stilt, (Ae‘o).
welcomes you to visit with the all the wonderful flora and fauna that we share this lovely aina with.