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Wading bird identification

I recently spotted a wading bird in the sandbar flats in Stuart Florida near the inlet. Unfortunately, I was wading out into the water and did not bring my phone to capture a photograph. But hopefully the mystery can be solved with just a description of what I saw.
The bird was much taller and robust then a little blue heron or a tri-colored heron. It was much smaller than a great blue heron. It was about the same height as a great egret, but it's body and neck were more robust and I'm certain it would have weighed more than a great egret. It's legs were long and black ( dark). It's bill was dark also but I could not see well enough to see if it was bicolored.
Sibley's guide to birds says a little blue heron is about 12 ounces and a great egret is about 2 pounds. This bird was bulkier and looked like it would be a little over the weight of a great egret. But not the way a big great blue heron. It's color was a soft white (not stark bright white like a great egret) its back, shoulders and wings were a very very pale gray. Not the gray of a great blue heron. So much about this bird makes me think of a reddish egret. Except a couple of things. Sibley says a reddish egret is only about 1 pound. I feel strongly that this bird would weigh about the weight of a roseate spoonbill and definitely more than an ibis. Also, I have never seen a reddish egret with this coloring. They are either white morph and all white or a dark morph with the reddish neck and the gray back and shoulders. This bird was a mix between a white morph and a dark morph. It did not have the stringy shaggy plumes in the chest. But… I did manage to watch it do a quick little hop to the right and left and up its wings wet like a reddish egret would do. This bird has me stumped.


Brian Rapoza
3 months ago

Have you considered an immature Reddish Egret? See the 2nd photo on the right at

3 months ago

I have. The only thing is, though, is that his head and neck were definitely white. Not a stark white though. And there were no reddish egret whisps. The thing that confuses me is his size. This bird was not a 1# bird. I used to do wildlife rehab and I have handled thousands of birds. Sublet says they are only 15 ounces. Gosh, I wish I had a pic. This is driving me nuts. Lol.

Grover Larkins
3 months ago

Perhaps you had a small GBH. I've seen some that were not a whole lot bigger than a Common Egret. It is sort of the wrong time of year for a imm reddish, I usually start seeing them in Sept.

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