As the name implies these are birds of crepuscular habits, becoming active as night begins to set in and hiding from view as the dawn brightens.
They are gregarious nesters, usually at lower elevations than the Great Blue Herons, but sometimes in the same heronry.
At Pelee I found them in a grove of hackberry trees, but frequently see them in old willow trees.
The adults of this medium-sized, rather squatty heron are quite distinctive with their black back, white underparts and light gray wings.
At close range, the bright red eyes and white plumes dangling from the black crown are striking features.
The young, especially in flight, might be confused with the American Bittern, but are a dull, gray-brown rather than rich yellowish-brown of the bittern, which shows much contrast between the almost black wing tips and pale brown of the rest of the wing.
The shorter, less-pointed bill of the night-heron contrasts with the long, dagger-like bill of the bittern.
Dr. J. Murray Speirs