A Yawning Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Today I’m excited to showcase some images I captured last August of a young Yellow-crowned Night-Heron yawning at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma.

Yawn of the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Yawn of the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron's Beak Wide Open Yawn
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron’s Beak Wide Open Yawn
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron After A Yawn
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron After A Yawn

I spotted this striking heron while driving along the auto tour road in the refuge’s 4-corners area. I quickly parked and set up my camera and lens on a beanbag draped over the truck’s open window to stabilize my shots. The heron was very patient with me as I snapped away, treating me to a great big yawn.

The first two photos show the heron’s beak stretched wide open mid-yawn, with its tongue visibly sticking out. The third pic is shortly after, with its beak closed again after a satisfying yawn. I love how close I was able to get on these shots – almost no cropping needed!

Capturing animal behaviors like yawning or stretching offer such fascinating glimpses into their lives. As wildlife photographers, these unguarded moments are the gems we live for. Yawns may look lazy to us, but they serve an important purpose for animals, just like humans. Yawning helps pump fresh oxygen through their bodies and brains to stay energized and alert. Pretty neat!

I feel so grateful to witness and preserve special wildlife moments like these. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek into a day in the life of a heron as much as I did photographing it. Let me know in the comments if you have any favorite yawning animal shots!

Keep chasing those magical moments! -Steve Creek

Gear Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: Canon RF 800 mm F11


  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
  • Date and Time Taken: August 12, 2022 (08:26 A. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f11
  • Shutter speed: 1/800
  • ISO: 1000 (Auto)
  • Exp. Comp.: 0
  • Focal Length: 800 mm

Related Post:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Scratching