Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2016-18


Common name:

Little Blue Heron

Scientific name: Egretta caerulea
Date: 07/26/2016
Time: 1:40 pm
Length of time observed: 30
Number: 1
Age: Juvenile
Sex: Unknown
Location: Powell Lake, Lehi
County: Utah
Latilong:  
Elevation: 4,300'
Distance to bird: 20-200'
Optical equipment: 8x42 binoculars
Weather: Sunny and clear
Light Conditions: Bright
Description:        Size of bird: Small heron
(Description:)       Basic Shape: egret/heron
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: white, yellow and gray
(Description:)            Bill Type: medium dagger
(Description:)                              
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
 I watched a Snowy Egret and another bird that showed most of the signs for a juvenile LBHE. Bicolored mostly gray bill with a dark tip, green-yellow loral skin (in direct light it appeared much brighter on the forehead--yellow, as opposed to the more toned down area below and around the eye) and legs (no black on front of legs), and most importantly and upright and deliberate feeding posture. The bird has been getting harassed by the SNEG which appears slightly bigger (random).

The 2 were initially in the north pond and the smaller bird flew off and was immediately chased by the SNEG. The two have now been on the south shore and east shore of the south pond. As I write he possible LBHE just landed on reeds in the SE corner.

There were also 2 younger SNEG around hat both had obvious dark on the shins and upper leg fronts as well. Look closely at the leg color and the posture of the birds. The SNEG keep their neck curled back before they strike, where this bird kept its head outstretched and and forward as it hunted.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery:  
Behavior: Feeding, stalking fish with an outstretched neck and bill pointing downward. As Sibley describes it:

"patient stalker, and walking with the neck stretched somewhat awkwardly up and forward, while the bill is pointed down at the water. This posture is distinctive. Generally solitary in shallow water, and shows a preference for grassy or weedy ponds"
Habitat: Grassy pond lined with phragmites
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Snowy Egret: very similar, field marks overlap and can be indistinguishable in the field. This bird tended to be more green-yellow in its bare parts with gray on the facial skin, as opposed to more usual brighter yellow of the SNEG. This bird was also slightly smaller but that doesn't seem to have any bearing. But the hunting posture was the notable feature that really stood out--and is the best way to separate the very young in July and August.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Have seen 100's in the tropics, and 1,000's of SNEG in Utah over the year
References consulted: Sibley guide to birds, and this blog post:
http://www.sibleyguides.com/2012/08/distinguishing-immature-white-little-blue-heron-from-snowy-egret/
Description from: Notes taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Tim Avery
Observer's address:  
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 07/28/2016
Additional material:  
Additional comments: Photos:
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S30861662