Clipboard researched by Kathie Bozanich and Rick VanderKnyff / Los Angeles Times; Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

(Nycticorax nycticorax) Description: Stocky heron with short neck and legs. Adult has black crown and back; white hindneck plumes are longest in breeding season.

Habitat: Coastal estuaries,

lakeshores, freshwater marshes and channels.

Diet: Mainly fish.

Displays: On tree male bows, stretches neck, erects breast feathers and back plumes, calls. Female responds similarly.

Nest: Builds loose nest in tree, of

sticks, twigs, reeds; scant lining of finer materials.

Eggs: Light blue or green, about 2 inches long.

Natural history notes: This bird sometimes nests in backyard trees, with the noisy and messy young sometimes creating a nuisance. Can sometimes be spotted on pilings or piers in bays and harbors.

Breeding bird atlas: To report bird breeding activity in your neighborhood, or to get information on the breeding bird atlas (now in its fifth and final year), call Sea and Sage Audubon Society members Sylvia Gallagher, (714) 962-8990, or Nancy Kenyon, (714) 786-3160.

Note: Map is divided into 5-kilometer squares so that Audubon Society volunteers can more easily survey areas on a regular basis.

Sources: Sea and Sage Audubon Society; "The Birder's Handbook," Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, Fireside Books (1988); "Field Guide to the Birds of North America," National Geographic Society (1987); "Birds of Southern California: Status and Distribution," Garrett and Dunn, Los Angeles Audubon Society (1981).

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