skip to content

Egretta caerulea

Little Blue Heron

  • Order: Pelecaniformes
  • Family: Ardeidae


The Little Blue Heron is unusual in that it has a largely white juvenal plumage, similar to several other white egrets at this stage, but as an adult it is blue-gray with a rufous-washed head. It may be the only species for which the term “white phase” is appropriate as it indeed is a temporal phase, this white plumage. In other species where there is a dark and pale, or other color types the term should be morph rather than phase. During the molt between the white juvenal and dark adult plumage birds are in a dark splotched “calico” plumage for a substantial period of time. The adult also shows a blue-gray bill with black tip, and thin blackish crest as well as blackish legs. As a juvenile the plumage is entirely white, lacking crests and the bill is dull grayish with a black tip and the legs are greenish; keen observers will note that the primary tips are dusky unlike in other all white egrets. The Little Blue Heron is widely distributed, from the United States south to northern Chile, reaching farther south west of the Andes than east of the Andes. In Chile this species is spreading south relatively quickly, it already has been found on numerous occasions south of the desert zone and it is only a matter of time before it fully colonizes the central part of the country. This is a habitat generalist, found in rocky streams, marshes and also foraging on rocky coastlines.

Help complete this species

There are many ways to contribute — we need species information, photographs, audio, video, translations, maps, distribution data, and bird sightings. There's a role for everyone!

Learn more

Recommended Citation

. 2010. Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:
  • Primary Habitat:
  • Foraging Strata:
  • Foraging Behavior:
  • Diet:
  • Sociality:
  • Mating System:
  • Nest Form:
  • Clutch: -
  • IUCN Status: