Rather stocky with short neck and rather short black bill and greenish or yellowish legs. Crown, nape, and black glossy black with long white occipital plumes (even longer when breeding); wings and tail gray; sides of neck and chest pale gray, white on remaining underparts. Immature with lower mandible mostly dull greenish yellow; brown above conspicuously streaked and spotted with white (with especially large spots on wing-coverts); whitish below streaked with brown. Subadults gradually assume adult plumage over 3 years; second-year birds show pattern of full adult but are browner.
Uncommon to fairly common along coasts and in freshwater marshes and swamps.
Habits and Behavior
Nocturnal, only rarely seen abroad by day, usually roosting in leafy trees. Often heard is an abrupt quok, given most frequently in the evening as it flies to its feeding areas, also when disturbed.