Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!
Scapulars [SKAP-yuh-lers] (plural noun): Body feathers that cover the top of a bird’s wing when it is at rest.
Scapulars can go unnoticed because they often are the same colour as the bird’s back and wings, but in certain birds, like the Black-crowned Night-Heron, they can be easier to see because their wing feathers and scapulars are of different colours. They kind of look like shoulders!
The Black-crowned Night-Heron has black scapulars and these dark feathers make up only a part of this bird’s distinctive colouring. They also have grey wings, a black crown (with two or more long white plumes during the breeding season), yellow-green legs, and also some really captivating red eyes with black pupils.
It is always exciting when we have the opportunity to see this small heron down by Grenadier Pond. They are not super active during our waking hours and spend most of the daytime on tree branches or hidden among foliage. The evening and at night is when the Black-crowned Night-Heron tends to be more active. This is the time where they forage in the water, on mudflats, or on land for fish, frogs and other prey.
Keep a careful eye out for Black-crowned Night-Herons and their dark scapulars on your next visit to High Park!
FUN FACT: The Black-crowned Night-Heron is the most widespread heron in the world, breeding on every continent except Antarctica and Australia!