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The Little Blue Heron in California

Loye Miller
4 (July-August)
From Field and Study
Online Text:

The Little Blue Heron in California

During the winter of 1931 I saw at Point Mugu in Ventura County a small white heron which, I was satisfied, had greenish legs instead of black. Contact with Little Blue Herons (Florida caerulea) in El Salvador and coastal Mexico made me at once suspect this bird of being a young specimen of that species. A similar bird was observed by my colleague, Dr. R. B. Cowles, during the following winter. He was also satisfied that the color of the legs was greenish yellow. On January 2 of the current year, I saw such a specimen with greenish legs and dark areas upon the dorsal surface. The distance was such that the field glass could not map out the darker areas nor distinguish them from adventitious stains, though white herons are seldom soiled in any way.

On February 1, two of these birds were watched for nearly an hour at a distance of forty yards. There were no dark areas on the dorsum, but the legs were greenish yellow without a shadow of doubt, and the beaks yellow at the base. Young specimens of Florida may be immaculately white in plumage, there may be diffuse pigment, or there may later appear entirely blue feathers in sharp contrast to the white. In the series of Florida at the Los Angeles Museum, all three types are represented. The birds observed on February 1 were perfect repreeentative of the pure white phase. The species occurs regularly on the west coast of Lower California, and I feel confident that it commonly drifts northward to our own southern coast marshes where it has been assigned by many observers to the category of Snowy Egret (Egretta thula).

Loye Miller

University of California at Los Angeles, February 17, 1934

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