Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Little Little Blues are white...

Early this June, Matty, Rick and I went to Hilton Head, SC for our vacation. I visited the nearby Pinckney Island NWP every day to watch the birds nesting at the Ibis Pond rookery. The Little Blue Herons were especially active this year, and the deep slate-colored adults could be seen sitting on nests, preening while they perched at the end of branches, flying overhead with long twigs destined for other nests, or just fluffing up to transform themselves into ridiculously attractive birds, but it was their snowy white offspring that I really paid attention to. The white-feathered young Little Blue Herons were busy flapping their wings, hopping from branch to branch, and waiting and begging for food...
Two young Little Blue Herons stretch and flap their wings from branches near their nest. They were not yet airborne, still gaining strength for their first flights. Here they were watching an adult that had just landed a few branches over, no doubt hoping for food!
Little Blue Herons have white plumage while they are young and retain the white color for their first year. They often nest with Snowy Egrets, but it's not too hard to tell the two white birds apart. Look at their legs, Little Blue Heron babies have greenish legs and feet. They also have dark blue-gray tipped wing feathers. It's often hard to see the dark-tipped feathers when the birds are at rest, but when they stretch, it's easy to spot the dark tips on the wing feathers.
...still hoping and wishing for food!
...even with the wings folded and at rest, you can see one dark-tipped wing feather among all the white, identifying the bird as a Little Blue Heron.
The nice thing about a rookery, is the birds stay put for you! All this posing and sticking near the nest makes it easy to sketch and draw them. At Ibis Pond on Pinckney Island I love to sit down, set up the scope, and get out the sketchbook. Here are a few quick sketches of the two babies...

...and here's papa fluffing up in all his blue grandeur!
(I took this photo last year at Pinckney, but it's one of my favorite fluffing-up shots.)

Happy Birding!


  1. Stunning photos, Kelly, and superb sketches that capture the essence of those birds. The adult is absolutely magnificent!

  2. Hi there - what a great set of pictures. Remarkable how much a bird can change.

    I'd love you to link to this week's WBW - you can find a how to link section on the WBW tab at the top of my blog if you have never done this.

    Stewart M – Australia

    PS: sorry about the lack of thumbnails this week – will get it right for WBW #3

  3. Your Pinckney trips always are rewarding with fantastic up-close photography and artwork. Awesome Kelly!!!

  4. Great post Kelly!! I loved seeing the Little Blues at this age.

  5. Lovely bird and nice job in yout sketch

  6. Outstanding images, Kelly.

  7. Wonderful post and photos Kelly. Your sketches are stunning, so nice.

  8. What a joy it must have been to observe these Little Blue Herons. You captured them beautifully in your fabulous photographs! Their sweet head sprouts make me smile. They certainly will grow up to be stunning birds. Outstanding sketches and photographs, Kelly!

  9. Awesome!!! You really captured the beauty of the little blues with your camera as well as your pencil. You are one talented lady!

  10. Love the photos and the drawings. Lovely post!

  11. ...thanks, everyone!! It was so much fun watching these two. I just don't get the opportunity to see them up close at home, so I'm always so thankful to see them up close at Pinckney Island. It's definitely easier to draw when the subject hold relatively still! :-)