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Little Blue Heron

Egretta caerulea ORDER: PELECANIFORMES FAMILY: ARDEIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A smallish heron of the southeastern United States, the Little Blue Heron breeds in various freshwater and estuarine habitats. It is the only heron species in which first-year birds and adults show dramatically different coloration: first-year birds are pure white, while adults are blue.

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Appearance

Herons
Herons
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Medium-sized, slender heron.
  • All dark.
  • Long neck, bill, and legs.
  • Bill dark.

Immature Description

White, with pale, black-tipped bill and greenish legs. Enters adult plumage in the first spring after hatching and may be pied white and blue.

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Similar Species

Similar Species

  • Tricolored Heron is slightly larger and thinner, and has white belly, white line down throat, and white head plumes.
  • Reddish Egret has more reddish neck and head, fluffier neck feathers, a pink base to the bill, and is restricted to salt water.
  • Immature Little Blue Heron resembles other white herons. Snowy Egret has black bill, yellow feet, and yellow skin in front of eyes.
  • Great Egret is larger, has a mostly yellow bill, and deep black legs.
  • Great White Heron, the white form of the Great Blue Heron, is much larger, and has a heavier bill without a dark tip.
  • The white form of the Reddish Egret has a dark or bi-colored bill, but with a pink, not gray base, is larger and shaggier, has darker legs, and is found only in salt water.
  • Cattle Egret is much shorter and stockier, has a thick, usually yellow bill, and often has a reddish wash over the head, back, and chest.