Sunday, March 3, 2013

Florida's Great Blue Herons and their White Morphs


A White Morph of a Great Blue Heron, Everglades Nat. Park; 12/28/2012.
When I went out looking for one, I wasn't sure that I'd be able to distinguish between a White Morph of a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret, but when I saw the Great White Heron (Above) I knew right away that it wasn't an Egret. It was obviously larger, bulkier and had a heavier bill than a Great Egret would have.
As I was hiking near the Everglades' Eco Pond, I noticed a White heron-sized bird sitting in a meadow on an off-trail. As I cautiously approached, it didn't flush. So I was able to get a pretty good close up. Other classic field marks that prove this is a Great White Heron are:
     1. The buffy gray legs of a Heron and not the dark blackish legs of a Great Egret (eventhough the photo doesn't show this very well).
     2. Its cumen is very straight, and not slightly cuved down as the Egret.
     3. The darker lores.

Below Photos of Great Blues on our Florida trip:
Great Blue Heron, S. Fishing Pier, St. Persburg, FL; 12/25/2012.

Great Blue Heron, Corkscrew Swamp NWR, FL; 12/26/2012.

Great Blue Heron, Everglades NP, FL; 12/28/2012.
A lighter Great Blue Heron - perhaps a cross between a Great White and a Great Blue?, Lovers Key SP, FL; 12/26/2012.

Another lighter version of a Great Blue, Everglades NP, FL; 12/28/2012.
According to Sibley's (Field Guide), the White Morph outnumbers the dark in the Florida Keys; however, I didn't see any Herons up close during our day and a half stay in the Keys. I saw lots of White wading birds, but they were at a great distance and I wasn't able to distinguish between a White Morph Great Heron or a Great Egret.

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