Family: Ardeidae, Herons, Egrets, Bitterns view all from this family
Description ADULT BREEDING Has mostly dark blue-gray plumage but a rich purplish maroon head and neck. Has long plumes on head, lower neck, and back. Legs are dark, eyes are yellowish, and bill is blue-gray with a dark tip. ADULT NONBREEDING Similar, but loses plumes, and colors on head and neck are less intense. JUVENILE Has mostly pure white plumage although tips of primaries are subtly darker. Bill is dull yellow (turning grayish with age) with a long dark tip; legs are yellowish. Confusion possible with Snowy Egret but note that species' all-dark bill, yellow lores, and striking contrast between black legs and yellow feet.
Dimensions Length: 25-30" (64-76 cm); Wngspn: 3' 5" (1 m)
Habitat Common wetland bird in coastal districts of Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Present year-round in many districts but breeding range extends inland. Nests colonially, sometimes alongside other herons.
Observation Tips Easy to see in most coastal wetlands and superb views can be obtained in Florida, where birds are often oblivious to observers.
Range Rocky Mountains, California, Texas, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada, New England, Southeast, Florida, Plains, Southwest
Voice Utters a harsh aarrk.
Discussion Distinctive, dark-looking heron that feeds in a slow, deliberate manner and often remains motionless for minutes on end; feeds on amphibians and fish in both freshwater and brackish habitats. Sexes are similar.