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Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea

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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.

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Harsh calls

© Martha J Fischer

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  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-breeding

Recommended Citation

Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/libher