Little Egret

Egretta garzetta


Bill Williams
Search this contributor

eBird Checklist S56170332
Craney Island Disposal Area (restricted access)
Portsmouth, Virginia, United States
Search this location, Illustrated Checklist
Latitude and Longitude 36.9065, -76.37 Map


Media notes

photo taken by Brian Taber

Observation details

Brian Taber’s Comments-25 April in the literature I'm seeing, 2 long, isolated "lanceolated" head plumes always indicate adult Little with the caveat that a shorter plume sticking out from some bushy ones is not enough; that could be Snowy. Western Reef Heron has 2 also, but stocky bill that's lighter colored. • other features are grayish facial skin in Little, though for a short while even Little could show yellow or orange. • back, rump and tail feathers are generally curled in Snowy, straight in Little... • overall size and bill size are very similar. • the 2 photos indicate Little to me for the reasons above. Lee Schuster’s Comments-26 April ….. thought evidence was good. I noticed the long plume of feathers on the breast found in Little’s and not Snowy. The pics indicate that but also thought that could be hard to separate given conditions. I did see the 4 snowy together and there was one that looked larger than the others. I think that is what caught Brian’s eye at first. I didn’t see closely the second time. The fact that he was so skittish says something. Dave Youker’s Comments-26 April I wish the photo was better. I saw better distinction of the two lanceolated plumes, but the photo doesn't do this characteristic much justice. All the Little-Snowy hybrids indicate some aspects of Snowy such as recurved plumes on back, yellow lores or additional shaggy plumes on head. This bird didn't display any of those aspects. Although there is variation in bills, the bill of a Little should be longer than the head which appears to be the case in the photo. The feet can appear to be a duller yellow in Little which was seen when it flew...but that could have been due to dirt. Given the increasing numbers in the West Indies and a breeding record in Barbados, it's increasing probable that more Little Egrets will appear along the Atlantic coast. Given this and what Brian indicates below, I'm inclined to lean more toward Little Egret. Bill Williams’ Comments-26 April A Little Egret was documented at Parker River NWR, MA also 25 April 2019! This species has been confirmed in eBird from the Maritimes to least Mattamuskeet, NC (2016) since at least 1992; many have been in late April. A critical element is the color of the iris. Snowy iris is more yellow than Little, which is pale yellow. The photo of yesterday's Craney egret facing to the right, strongly suggests a pale yellow iris, consistent with Little. Here's what seemed to be clear about the northeast corner egret. It was proportionally larger in size than the nearby SNEG. Its bill seemed larger/longer than the SNEG and the cere looked dull grey/dull blue compared to the red/yellow easily noted on the SNEG when the latter was observed up close. The Craney egret seemed to have at least one distinct, un-clumped head plume. The combination of seasonal occurrence precedent, body size/proportions relative to SNEG, bill size/length, somewhat long sloping forehead, blue-gray cere, pale iris, long, pointed, un-clumped head plumes, and straight back plumes above the rump add up to Little over SNEG.

Technical Information

Focal length
136 mm
Shutter speed
1/320 sec
Flash did not fire, auto
Original file size
1543 x 1404

Related Media

Same Observation

View All

Same Checklist

View All

Same Species

View All