Little Blue Heron

Egretta caerulea
Range Map

Until recently, we believed Little Blue Herons only bred from the Gulf states of the USA through Central America and the Caribbean south to Peru and Uruguay. In the past few years, (since the 1980s) we’ve found them year-round in San Diego.

During their first year, the Little Blue Heron is white, which seems to help it blend in with groups of Snowy Egrets these younger birds often associate with. As it begins its second year, it develops blue-gray blotches. We call this the calico phase. As an adult, its blue-gray and purple coloration gives it a striking appearance. During the early 20th century, when the millinery trade nearly exterminated many of the white herons and egrets so ladies could have pretty hats, the Little Blue Heron was spared because their dark feathers were not in demand.

Naturally, my first encounters with Little Blue Herons occurred in my hometown of San Diego. But my visits to Texas in 2020 and 2021 provided me with some wonderful meetings as well.

Given the wide range for this species, and the mix of migratory and sedentary populations, I expected they would split Little Blue Heron into multiple subspecies. However, my research showed scientists consider them to be monotypic (i.e. no subspecies).

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