Bird lovers flock to Detroit Zoo to see black-crowned night herons

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) - Black-crowned night herons have decided to make the treetops of the Detroit Zoo their home.

The wild night herons began nesting about a dozen years ago, but local bird watchers recently began taking notice and are thrilled to see the species, according to Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Birds Tom Schneider.

The original settlement and mating of the night herons was successful. The Detroit Zoo is the perfect nesting area because it's safe and has plenty of food, Schneider further explained.

The normally nocturnal night heron comes out during the day in active nesting season, which is May through July. The head of the night heron is crowned with black feathers that extend down its back with light-grey feathers on the rest of the body. They have black beaks, crimson eyes and legs that change from yellow to pink during breeding season.

They can be seen flying across the treetops near the bear dens behind Sweet Treats concessions. Visitors can be sure they're in the right spot when they hear the distinctive clicking sound the night herons use to communicate.

The Detroit Zoo is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Labor Day.