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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.

ML Essential Set
Bird Festivals

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
22–29.1 in
56–74 cm
Wingspan
39.4–41.3 in
100–105 cm
Weight
10.4–14.5 oz
296–412 g
Other Names
  • Petit héron bleu, Aigrette bleue, Crabier bleu (French)
  • Garza azul, Garceta azul (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Snowy Egret tolerates the close proximity of white Little Blue Herons more than that of dark Little Blue Herons. A white Little Blue Heron catches more fish in the company of Snowy Egrets than when alone. This relationship may be one reason why young Little Blue Herons stay white for a year.
  • Another advantage of white plumage is that young Little Blue Herons are more readily able to integrate into mixed-species flocks of white herons, thus gaining a measure of protection against predators.

Habitat


Marsh

Swamps, estuaries, rivers, ponds, and lakes.

Food


Fish

Small fish, amphibians, and aquatic invertebrates.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–6 eggs
Egg Description
Pale bluish green.
Condition at Hatching
Covered in white down; eyes partially open and can hold head up just after hatching.
Nest Description

A platform of long sticks, lined with green vegetation. Nests in colonies with other herons. Nest placed in trees or shrubs.

Nest Placement

Tree

Behavior


Stalking

In courtship, male points bill straight upward and suddenly extends and withdraws neck.Forages slowly and methodically, walking slowly, peering, and moving along to a new spot.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Declining in much of its range in the United States. Because it does not bear long showy plumes in breeding adult plumage, the Little Blue Heron largely escaped serious population declines from feather hunting for the millinery trade. Habitat loss and human-caused changes in local water dynamics are the most serious threats.

Credits

  • Rodgers, J. A., Jr., and H. T. Smith. 1995. Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea). In The Birds of North America, No. 145 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Range Map Help

Little Blue Heron Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings