Bird: Little Blue Heron (Egretra caerulea)

Height: 27"

Description: Medium sized heron. Body, head, and neck are solid purplish slate-blue. Skin around eye is gray. Legs are dull green. Bill is long compared to head and is gray with a dark tip. It can be distinguished from the Tricolored Heron by the lack of a white breast. During breeding, the head and neck become purple with elegant plumes. The immature plumage is bright white and molts slowly into gray in the first spring. The immature Little Blue Heron can be distinguished from the similar Snowy Egret by noting the two-toned bill and lack of yellow socks. Unlike the Tricolored Heron it has a solid dark gray breast.

Voice: Usually quiet. Makes a low, croaking "ehhhhn, ehhhhhhn" when startled or upon landing. Audio is available at

Little Blue Heron 1
Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge, West Delray Beach

Feeding: Usually feeds solitarily although also feeds in large groups when food source is abundant. White immatures may feed together, and be interspersed among groups of adults. Eats fish, insects, and crayfish. Stalks prey quietly.

Other Behavior: The Little Blue Heron is a very quiet bird, and is usually seen patiently stalking prey. They hunt within territories but I have yet to see any aggressive territorial disputes. They have a repeated gutteral, rasping call when startled that is typical of herons.

Little Blue Heron 2

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Little Blue Heron 3
Ding Darling Preserve, Sanibel Island, Immature Little Blue Heron

These photographs were made along the side of the Indigo Trail at Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve on Sanibel Island. It's hard to see in the photos, but this bird is a yearling and was beginning to molt into its blue-gray plumage. This didn't come out on the film, probably due to slight over-exposure (white birds are tricky), but if you look closely at the tail feathers, you'll see a few dark ones. Also notice the two-tone bill. This is a good way to distinguish the immature Little Blue Heron from the similar Snowy and Cattle Egrets.

Little Blue Heron 4

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