North Dakota photographers have been submitting images to the State Game and Fish Department’s Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest for more than a quarter century.
The call for photographs of North Dakota’s nongame species was initiated in 1990, and submissions have continued ever since.
In 2008, the contest expanded to include North Dakota game animals. Since then, just two photographs of game animals – a sharp-tailed grouse in 2015 and a mule deer buck in 2016 – were judged overall winners of the contest.
This year, a nongame species is again the overall winner. Dale Rehder of West Fargo photographed a black-crowned night heron, with a yellow perch, near Valley City.
This stocky heron nests in North Dakota, raising one brood per year. Both the male and female build a crude, shallow nest of sticks and reeds. Sometimes these colony nesters can be found nesting with other herons. When they do, they are often found in a corner, keeping to themselves.
As the winning photograph is proof, black-crowned night herons feed on fish and also aquatic insects.
As its name implies, the night heron is mostly nocturnal. While other herons are heading to roosts at dusk, these birds are heading out to forage for food.
*The North Dakota Game and Fish photo galleries contain photos taken by Department staff and private photographers. Photos that were taken by a staff photographer may be used for personal, private purposes. Photos taken by private photographers may not be used in any way without the permission of the photographer. No photos may be used for commercial purposes. We ask that you please give credit to the photographer and/or the Department when using these photos (ex. Credit: Jane Doe/NDGF).