Great Blue Heron Identification

The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    Largest of the North American herons with long legs, a sinuous neck, and thick, daggerlike bill. Head, chest, and wing plumes give a shaggy appearance. In flight, the Great Blue Heron curls its neck into a tight “S” shape; its wings are broad and rounded and its legs trail well beyond the tail.

    Relative Size

    Taller and much heavier than a Great Egret; smaller and much less bulky than a Sandhill Crane.

    Relative Sizegoose or largergoose-sized or larger
    Measurements
    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 38.2-53.9 in (97-137 cm)
      • Weight: 74.1-88.2 oz (2100-2500 g)
      • Wingspan: 65.8-79.1 in (167-201 cm)

Regional Differences

An all-white subspecies, the Great White Heron, is found in coastal areas of southern Florida, along with individuals that are intermediate in plumage (showing a grayish body with a mostly white head and neck), known as “Würdemann’s Heron.”