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The Maintenance Behavior of the Black-Crowned Night Heron

George R. Maxwell and Loren S. Putnam
The Wilson Bulletin
Vol. 80, No. 4 (Dec., 1968), pp. 467-478
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4159772
Page Count: 12
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Maintenance Behavior of the Black-Crowned Night Heron
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Abstract

A field study of Black-crowned Night Heron maintenance behavior was conducted on the Bass Islands of Lake Erie, Ohio, in the summer of 1963. Descriptions of the behavior patterns associated with locomotion and body maintenance are given. The breast receives the most preening and the head the least. There is no set preening sequence, and the preening methods used showed little individual variation. Scratching was observed to be by the direct method and was for the most part an isolated action. Stretching and shaking are employed at infrequent intervals and shaking is used to place the feathers in order. Sleeping and resting were carried out during the daylight hours. Sunning, which is common to other herons, was not observed, but the herons did sleep in the direct sunlight. Throat pulsation, a rapid in and out motion of the gular region, was also noted during periods of higher temperatures. Bill-wiping and care of the feet are an uncommon activity of the night heron. Defecation may occur either in flight or while perched but occurs more commonly just before flight. When feeding, the immature heron's bill grabs the adult's bill at approximately a 65° angle and the food is transferred as the immature heron's bill withdraws from the adult's. There was no evidence of the adult placing its bill into the immature heron's mouth.

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