Identifying Non-White Egrets and Herons
"In a previous post, we looked at how to tell the difference between the white-colored herons and egrets that you can find regularly in the U.S. In this post, I'd like to look at those that are not white. To save space, we'll consider the night herons and bitterns in future posts. With herons and egrets that are not white, your task to identify them is much simpler."
Check out his site for photos and information about identifying some herons and egret.
Identification Tips (taken from Scott's blog)
Under most conditions, these birds can readily be identified by their color, size and shape. I have red-green color blindness, though, so sometimes I can't use color to distinguish between them. And I suspect that even those with normal vision can be fooled under difficult lighting conditions. For instance, a Reddish Egret may appear to be white or grey over distances and in poor lighting. So here are some checks I use to confirm my initial identifications of these herons/egrets:
- Look for white on the belly or under the wings in flight. If you see that, you're looking at a Tricolored Heron.
- Look for its behavior--the Reddish Egret's "canopy feeding" style can help tell it apart. (Lisa's note, I can remember looking up this bird in Sibley and identifying the reddish egret in this manner at Chincoteague many years ago)
- Compare the bird to other nearby birds that you can identify. A Little Blue Heron will look smaller next to a Great Blue Heron than will a Reddish Egret.
- Look at structure--that is, the form of a bird. Tricolored Herons look more slender than other herons. Green Herons have shorter legs.
- Look for a two-toned bill, which can point you to a Reddish Egret, Little Blue Heron or Tricolored Heron. And if you can see the color of the bill, even better--a pinkish bill will distinguish a Reddish Egret from the more blue-grey looking bill of the Little Blue Heron.