This diminutive heron is fairly common in its preferred wetland habitat, but secretive and easily overlooked. Found in marshes with a mix of open water and vegetation, often with cattails, phragmites, or lily pads. Usually seen perched motionless, straddling reeds at the edge of water or on a short dash flying just above the reeds. Its soft song, "coo-coo-coo," is heard at night. Attractive pattern of orange, black, and white is distinctive among herons. Female drabber than male. Feeds on small fish.