"Little Blue Heron"
(Egretta caerulea)

Photograph by
Snow W. Frost
Photograph by
Snow W. Frost

The Tricolored Heron is dark blue-gray heron with a white belly and underwings; white stripe down the front of the neck. Bill color varies from dark on top and yellow beneath to gray at base and darker at tip.

It's an unusual bird because the young look completely different from adults. All-white young turn blotchy white the first year, by the second year they look like adult birds. It often flies north after breeding season, returning to Florida for the winter.

Size: 24"

Male: Dark slate blue to purple nearly all year. Dull green legs, feet. Black-tipped blue-gray bill. Brdding has several long plumes on crown with reddish-purple head and neck.

Female: Same as the male.

Nest: Platform; male and female build; 1 brood per year. Nests in large colonies, often with other herons. Platform nest of sticks and twigs lined with finer vegetation, placed in tree or shrub 6-15 feet above the ground.

Eggs: 3-7; light blue without markings.

Incubation: 20-23 days; female and male incubate.

Fledging: 42-49 days; male and female feed young.

Migration: Complete, to Central America and South America, winters in most of Florida

Food: Fish, aquatic insects. It wades belly-deep in water. In addition to stalking prey by walking, it also runs or hops with wings open. Eats fish, amphibians, insects.

Habitat: Marshes, shores, mudflats, tidal creeks.

Voice: Guttural "unh" and "bulh-culh" given during courtship displays. High-pitched "aah" given during aggression.

Courtship: Courtship involves circle flights, chases, and displays during which neck feathers, back feathers, and crest are raised. Bill clackling is frequent.

My personal notes...

The Little Blue Heron seems to be a very quiet shy bird. It stalks its fish prey very slowly with patience. Very dark coloring all over...even its beak.

"Bird Wonderland"


Copyright 1999-2009 Snow W. Frost
All rights reserved.
Reproduction without permission is strictly forbidden.