Tag Archives: herons

Compare: Little Blue Heron and Snowy Egret

At first glance, these two birds belong in the “white heron/egret” category of wading birds found at water’s edge. Snowy Egret, I thought, before I took a good look.

Jensen bridge.

We were doing that fun John-and-Amy thing where we drive around in our old Jeep with a fishing rod in back. We stop now and then, here and there, for John to cast a few and me to snap a few.

Birds on the seawall and down on the rocks were watching bait fish move in with the tide.

Not the same bird.

These two were close together on the wall.

I got a good look at the legs and feet, bills and lores, and realized one was a Snowy Egret (left) and the other a Little Blue Heron (right), a species that is white as a juvenile.

Snowies have black bills with a yellow patch, or lore, between their beaks and eyes, and yellow feet with black legs (mostly all black, but sometimes just black on the front of their legs!) Young Little Blues have gray-green legs, darker gray-to-black bills that are slightly thicker.

Both are in the Ardeidae family (herons, egrets, bitterns) and the Egretta genus of medium herons mostly breeding in warm climates.

Egretta thula

Looks like somebody was drawing with chalk where this Snowy Egret is standing! I like the yellow feet with the yellow flower.

Egretta caerulea

Little Blue Heron, not a Snowy Egret! Someday this bird will be a lovely, moody blue-gray-purple color, but not yet.

Here’s an adult Little Blue Heron, from photos I took last March.

Grow up so I can tell what you are!

IMG_4796-2

Well, there’s another one. Juvenile night heron. Yellow-crowned? Black-crowned? It’s so hard when they don’t have their crowns yet.

IMG_4793-2

Perfectly still and nicely camouflaged, at the edge of the retention pond on the corner of South Sewall’s Point Road and Ocean Boulevard.

IMG_4800-2

Sometimes the pond fountain is on, sometimes off. Looking from the Ocean Boulevard sidewalk you can glimpse the town’s nice little park beyond and a bit of the Indian River Lagoon.

IMG_4795-2

Members of Facebook’s “What’s This Bird” IDed this as a Yellow-crowned Night Heron and shared a helpful link: Birdzilla: Juvenile Night Heron Comparison.

Black-crowned Night Herons at the zoo

IMG_4522-2

There is a small colony of Black-crowned Night Herons living, by choice, and appropriately, in the Florida Wetlands section of the Palm Beach Zoo. (MAP)

There were a number of nests in the treetops. We noticed because they were squawking overhead.

IMG_4525-2

A juvenile stands around.

IMG_4530-2.jpg

Black-crowned Night-Herons are stocky birds compared to many of their long-limbed heron relatives. They’re most active at night or at dusk, when you may see their ghostly forms flapping out from daytime roosts to forage in wetlands. In the light of day adults are striking in gray-and-black plumage and long white head plumes. These social birds breed in colonies of stick nests usually built over water. They live in fresh, salt, and brackish wetlands and are the most widespread heron in the world.

And my photo life list bird #175.

IMG_4539-2

Adults are pretty distinctive, particularly on the tops of their heads, or “crowns”… but spotted brown juvenile Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Night Herons are easy to confuse. The yellow on the bill is an identifying feature, according to Nicholas Lund writing The Birdist’s Rules of Birding #115: Learn to Identify and Differentiate Night Herons.

Another big clue: adult Black-crowned in the trees above this juvenile!

IMG_4542-2

Night heron and turtle gaze deeply into one another’s souls… wondering the eternal questions of the animal kingdom, “Can I eat it?” and “Is it going to eat me?”