Great blue heron
The largest heron in North America is a year-round resident of Florida, with migrating birds increasing the state's winter population. Great blue herons can be seen along the edges and in the shallows of both fresh and saltwater. The year-round range includes much of the United States, with summer breeding in the northern plains and the southern provinces of Canada. Winter populations extend throughout Mexico and Central America and along part of the northern coast of South America.
Standing about 1.25 meter (4 ft.) tall with a wingspan of 1.8 m (6 ft.), the body is mostly blue-gray. The head is white with a black stripe and short black plumes. The bill is long, thick and mostly yellow, juveniles having a dark upper bill. Legs are long, dull yellow to slaty-black, with rusty thighs. The front of the neck is striped black and white and the shoulder is black, with a bit of rusty coloring.
To see a sequence of photos of a great blue heron eating a snake, go to this page in Other Photos
In south Florida there is an all-white morph of the great blue heron, which some experts consider the sub-species Ardea herodias var. occidentalis. These birds are differentiated from the great egret (Ardea alba) by being larger and heavier and not having black legs and feet.
Ardea herodias is a member of the Ardeidae - Herons & Bitterns family.
Other species of the Ardea genus in the Wild Florida Photo database:
Ardea alba - GREAT EGRET
Ardea herodias var. occidentalis - GREAT WHITE HERON
For more information on this species, visit the following link:
Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds page for this species
Date record last modified: Mar 21, 2020