Herons of North America

We have six heron species in the United States.  While in Florida where they vast in numbers, I was able to photograph five of them with little difficulty, and I’m still going through my photos.

The one that eluded me during those three months was the adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron.  So I’ve included a photo courtesy of Eric Lipton to show for comparisons.

I thought a great way to share more heron photos would be to see them side-by-side in one post.

Do you know them by sight?




Sharing some shots in their habitats…..




As with many young birds, it gets a little trickier with some of the heron juveniles, especially the juvenile Little Blue Heron that is surprisingly all white.  I actually heard people ID it as a Snowy Egret on several occasions.  You can see the similarities (and differences) in the right photo below.


Little Blue Heron adult, juvenile and Snowy Egret comparison


Herons are fun to photograph and a favorite among many.  (And I still have heron photos to go through, so more to come I’m sure.  🙂 )



55 thoughts on “Herons of North America

  1. I know very few birds. But I photographed a green heron (I was told) at a wetlands near our house. I was able to confirm it was a green heron by your photographs above 😊 Thanks! Bird knowledge comes slowly for me 😁

    • Yay, love that I helped in your ID, Lisa! I myself am not good at IDing flowers, plants, trees, and insects. I figure birds is enough for my brain to learn and absorb this late in the game, now that I finally have time in life. 😃

      • 😁 I have been using the app iNaturalist. It has helped me ID a few things, it’s kind of cool. I just got a new zoomier zoom lens that I need to practice with. I hope to get a lot more bird photos!

  2. All six of them are beautiful and perfect subjects for photographing. Great shots, Donna. 🙂

  3. Lovely captures of so many different Herons Donna. It can be difficult at a distance to identify or differentiate between species, as I can see from the snowy egret and juvenile heron. The discerning eye would need to look carefully at beak and bird shape and how they walk. I especially like your Green Heron shot, lovely colours and it takes the classic heron pose.

    • Thank you, Ashley! Like so many other birds, sometimes there’s just a few small differences that you’ve got to catch to ID. That’s why I like to photograph my birds for my lifer list to prove my sighting. 🙂 I certainly enjoy photographing herons, and while in Florida this past winter, never saw so many on a daily basis. It was pretty awesome for me!

    • Thank you, Hans! I’m glad you have at least the Great Blue Heron, they are quite gorgeous and elegant. When I started photographing birds about 10 years ago, the GBH was one of my almost daily practice shooting subjects. They’re perfect to practice with since they’ll not move for what seems likes hours at a time! 😉

  4. The beak shape is different and the Egret has yellow on the face. The baby Heron has no yellow.

    We have Herons, here, due to the Eno River. But, I can’t tell what kind they are…Great Blue, Little Blue…?

    • Good eye, Vic, on the juvi Little Blue and Snowy Egret comparison. You can’t see another thing from my photos, the Snowys have yellow feet, the Little Blues don’t, which helps a great deal with ID when they’re in flight. 🙂

      Here’s a link you can see what birds are in abundance in your county. I picked Durham County, and it says you have all six herons that I shared here. 🙂 For sure Eno River has several of them. Where there’s water, there’s herons! http://ncbirds.carolinabirdclub.org/accounts.php

        • Oh no……I really hate when this happens, has to me a few times over the years, I can really get mad at myself when there’s absolute special ones lost. Did one time actually retrieve photos that were erased from a card with the help of my son’s computer smartness and a downloaded software link. I still remember tearing up getting them back that time. 🙂 It certainly straightens me up for a while on it not happening again. I really hope you find them!!

  5. It was interesting to see them and compare their size, literally using inches. I have only seen a black-crowned night heron and the Great Blue Heron. The juvenile looks like an American Bittern at first glance. We all need to get out those field guides and check the details. Great shots, Donna , thank you for sharing them.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the comparisons, Jane, I can remember many years back not being able to remember which heron was which except for the GBH. It becomes easier when we have an interest in birds and want to know what we’re really looking at. 🙂 I have my bird books right by my computer always and after years of learning, I’m now able to spot birds easier that I don’t recognize, and somehow that’s exciting to me!

    • You’re welcome, Irene! I just checked ebird.org and you have four of the herons (GBH, Lil Blue, Green Heron, & Black-crowned at Indiana Dunes SP. 🙂 If you’ve not been to that website, check it out for some great info on where & when people are seeing what birds at any location by putting in regions, counties, then narrowing to parks, etc. Sometimes I find the website’s not too user-friendly but maybe that’s just me. I use it to check, I don’t keep track of my birds on it or report any. Hope that helps!

  6. Great collage! Not hard I guess, as the herons are so gracious🙂 We didn’t have much time to do bird watching when we were in Florida (or I wasn’t so much into birdwatching at that time LOL), but I shall visit with different eyes when we’ll be again, down there. One day, when travelling will be possible again🙂
    Stay safe Donna, all the best!

    • Thank you, Christie! I’ve fallen in love with the Everglades, not just for the birds (although that’s a huge plus!) but the beauty and diversity of the land. We’ve already made camping reservations to return in January. Fingers crossed travels can resume more safely very soon! Be safe, be well!

  7. Gorgeous photos, Donna! How wonderful to be able to see them all so well at once. The Yellow-crowned are notoriously difficult to find and photograph; I think the only ones I have seen have been in other countries…

  8. I’m so envious, Donna. To be in the presence of 5 different herons in one location is a dream I won’t be able to fulfill unless I do some traveling myself. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos.

    • Thank you, Tanja! If you ever do get the chance to go to the Everglades/Big Cypress/Fakahatchee area in January or February some year, you will feel like you are in a dream with all the birds. A true paradise! (p.s. We loved it so much, we’re already booked to go back Jan-March 2021 😃 )

  9. Argh 😣! I hate losing comments when typing them on the iPad! Just had to say this was a perfect way to compare these marvelous birds.

  10. Black-crowned Night Heron and Green Heron somehow appeal to me. We have Botaurus stellaris (sorry I didn´t find the name in English) living in Finland and it is similar to Green Heron. If you are interested in listening to it´s voice I copied a link here for you http://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/fi/linnut/kaulushaikara. You must have been in heaven Donna, when shooting these shots; So great shots of great birds!

    • Yours is a Bittern, and yes it looks similar to our Green Heron! We also have two Bitterns (American, Least) and they are very similar to yours. Sometimes people in the U.S. get our Green Heron and Bitterns confused because of the similarities. 🙂 I was in southwest Florida this past winter, and it is a birding paradise of herons, I was thrilled every day!

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