Little Blue Heron

Egretta caerulea

A smallish heron of the southeastern United States, the Little Blue Heron breeds in various freshwater and estuarine habitats. It is the only heron species in which first-year birds and adults show dramatically different coloration: first-year birds are pure white, while adults are blue.

Interesting Information

The Snowy Egret tolerates the close proximity of white Little Blue Herons more than that of dark Little Blue Herons. A white Little Blue Heron catches more fish in the company of Snowy Egrets than when alone. This relationship may be one reason why young Little Blue Herons stay white for a year. Another advantage of white plumage is that young Little Blue Herons are more readily able to integrate into mixed-species flocks of white herons, thus gaining a measure of protection against predators.


Adult Description

  • Medium-sized, slender heron.

  • All dark.

  • Long neck, bill, and legs.

  • Bill dark.

  • Length Range: 61-74 cm (24-29 in)

  • Weight: 366 g (12.9 oz)

  • Size: Large (16 - 32 in)

  • Color Primary: Blue, Gray

  • Underparts: Dark Gray

  • Upperparts: Dark Gray

  • Back Pattern: Solid

  • Belly Pattern: Solid

  • Breast Pattern: Solid

Sex Differences

Sexes similar.


White, with pale, black-tipped bill and greenish legs. Enters adult plumage in the first spring after hatching and may be pied white and blue.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Swamps, estuaries, rivers, ponds, and lakes.


In courtship, male points bill straight upward and suddenly extends and withdraws neck.Forages slowly and methodically, walking slowly, peering, and moving along to a new spot.


Small fish, amphibians, and aquatic invertebrates.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
    Subfamily: Ardeinae
Genus: Egretta
Species: Egretta caerulea

Similar Species

  • Tricolored Heron is slightly larger and thinner, and has white belly, white line down throat, and white head plumes.

  • Reddish Egret has more reddish neck and head, fluffier neck feathers, a pink base to the bill, and is restricted to salt water.

  • Immature Little Blue Heron resembles other white herons. Snowy Egret has black bill, yellow feet, and yellow skin in front of eyes.

  • Great Egret is larger, has a mostly yellow bill, and deep black legs.

  • Great White Heron, the white form of the Great Blue Heron, is much larger, and has a heavier bill without a dark tip.

  • The white form of the Reddish Egret has a dark or bi-colored bill, but with a pink, not gray base, is larger and shaggier, has darker legs, and is found only in salt water.

  • Cattle Egret is much shorter and stockier, has a thick, usually yellow bill, and often has a reddish wash over the head, back, and chest.

Bird Sound

Does not sing. Calls buzzy; also sharp chips. Wings of adult male make a high, buzzy trill.

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution