There are some species of birds that attempt to fool us with a name that inaccurately depicts them, such as Red-bellied Woodpeckers. In this case, one would visualize a sharp billed bird with a cherry colored stomach, when in fact these birds present with a red head and gray belly. Another species that can cause one confusion based on its name is the Little Blue Heron.
Adult Little Blue Heron
As adults, Little Blue Herons do accurately fit the description of their name. These herons are, as their name suggests, both small and blue.
Juvenile Little Blue Heron
However, as juveniles, the slate blue hue that they are known for is unmistakably absent. Instead, juvenile Little Blue Herons are pure white. This lack of hue is actually quite helpful for the Little Blues as it allows them to blend with large flocks of other white waders, such as Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets. In a larger flock, these young herons have greater protection from predators.
Around the time the juveniles approach their first spring or early summer, they begin their slow morph from white to blue. This Little Blue, one of the first ones I saw this summer, was in the initial stages of its morph in early June.
I always enjoy seeing the Little Blues in this phase with their erratic mix of white and blue.
The above photo was taken in mid-July and below photo was taken at the end of August. I am quite certain that it is the same heron as I see this visitor regularly meandering around my neighbor's dock.
As this Little Blue nears it complete adult plumage, it now suits its name!