Herons and Egrets

Wading birds like Herons and egrets maybe easier to spot due to their relatively large size, but can easily be confused.   These birds belong to the Ardeidae family and while they have similar characteristics, there are subtle differences in shape, size, color etc.   Many of these birds were hunted down to near extinction for their silky feathers which ended up as ornamental decorations.  Thanks to dogged conservation efforts, several of these species have come back from the brink of extinction and are a delight to watch.  This is a short narrative on some of these birds that I’ve photographed.  The Great Blue Heron is a majestic bird and waits patiently to catch its meal.   Standing at almost 5 feet it is one of the largest birds and can be found in ponds and other ecosytems.

The Little Blue Heron on the other hand is about 2 feet tall and is uniformly blue colored, although juveniles are white in color!

The Green Heron is a somewhat stocky bird and can be often found crouching in marshy swamps, waiting to strike on an unsuspecting victim.

Here’s a Black Crowned Night Heron stealthily waiting for its catch!

Another close cousin is the Yellow crowned Night-Heron that feeds on crustaceans like crabs.   As the name implies both the black-crowned and yellow-crowned night heron tends to feed even at night.

The tricolored heron is slate-blue colored and has a distinct white belly.  It also happens to be a very good angler, as seen in this photo.

Egrets have similar features to herons and belong to the same family, and with a little bit of practice one can distinguish them from one another.  The smallest of the egrets is the Cattle egret, which can be often found feeding in open fields and pastures.

The Great Egret is much larger in size and tends to feed alone, although it can be found feeding with other birds as seen below.

Another graceful bird is the Snowy Egret which can be distinguished from the Great Egret by the color of its beak and yellow feet.

A moderately sized bird, yet one of the rarest in this family is the Reddish Egret, which by the way occurs in two color morphs, the one shown below and a white form.


7 thoughts on “Herons and Egrets

  1. Egrets and herons are some of my favorite subjects to photograph. They are such elegant, beautiful birds. What a lovely post this is filled with stunning images! It is too difficult to select a favorite, as they all are wonderful!

  2. These birds are the main reason why I want to go to Florida someday! In Ottawa we have four species: Great Blue, Green, Black-crowned Night-heron, and just recently, Great Egret. The Great Egrets started showing up regularly about four or five years ago and have been confirmed breeding here for the first time last year on the Ottawa River.

    Do you think you can convince the Little Blue Heron and Snowy Egret to come here, too? 😉

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