New Addition to Museum’s Checklist

There has been much attention applied toward the birth of our red wolf pups, and deservedly so. But, on the same day female red wolf 1858 was pushing out her 6 fine pups, we had a new member sign on to our bird checklist here at the museum, a little blue heron (Egretta caerulea).

Immature little blue heron.

As some of you already know, little blue herons are not simply “small” great blue herons but rather another species of heron altogether. As adults, they are truly blue whereas great blue herons appear more gray than blue. To complicate things, little blue herons are white until the following summer of their hatching. So, any little blue heron that was hatched last summer (2016) will be white until it molts into its adult plumage, which is blue, the following summer (2017). Got it?

Anyway, on the morning of April 28, I spotted a large white bird fly up out of the water and into the still low, morning sun as I rounded the bend in the path which circles our Wetlands. The bird landed in a tree on the far side of the pond. Was this a great egret, or better yet, snowy egret (I have yet to see a snowy egret here in the wetlands)? Not having my binoculars with me, I took a few photos of the bird, shooting into the sun.

Even with the poor lighting, it was easy to see that what I was looking at was not a great egret, or snowy, or even cattle egret (all of them white birds). This was a little blue heron.

Little blue heron.

I was able to get better photos later in the day.

Little blue herons, although more common on the coast, are not rare in our area and can often be found along the shores of our local reservoirs, Falls and Jordan Lakes. But as I mentioned, this was the first one I’d seen here at the Museum.

From left to right, yellow-bellied slider, little blue heron, and Canada goose.

You probably noticed the blue tinge on this bird. This little blue was hatched last year and is molting into adult plumage.

The bird stayed for the day, but was not found the next.

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