What kind of Heron is this?

I was out on my boat near Nanaimo, BC, a few weeks ago when I spotted this heron in the trees above me.

Herons are a daily sight in this part of the world. You will often see a Great Blue Heron flying overhead, or standing in the water, motionless, until a fish comes near, and then *snap* … lunch.

But this one is different. I’ve seen a lot of herons but never one with the colouring of this one. It is the size of a Great Blue Heron but it was all speckled grey and white.

Heron by Anne McKinnell
Please click the image to view a larger version.

I don’t think it’s a juvenile because it was huge and the juveniles I have seen have the same colouring as the adults, but with softer fluffier feathers.

This one intrigued me so much that I even let my sister drive the boat so I could get a better shot! (I think she’s only the second person I have ever allowed to drive.) So I have to thank Kathleen for helping me get this shot.

If you know what kind of heron this is, please let me know in the comments.

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18 Responses to “What kind of Heron is this?”

  1. I wonder if it is just a colour morph of a GB Heron. I’ll try and look this up later but in some species you can get colour anomolies, though I’ve never seen one in a heron locally.
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  2. I have no idea as I am not a bird person, but great shot.
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  3. That is a stunning bird – that’s all I can help you with! haha
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  4. Roger says:

    It could be a vagrant from Asia, or perhaps more likely a GB heron with partial albinism.

    • Hmm.. yes … that’s it, it probably came over with some of that Tsunami junk that is washing up on the west coast! ;) Someone else mentioned partial albinism too .. I’ll have to check that out. Thanks for your visit and comments Roger.

  5. Glen Sherman says:


    Certainly not as lovely a photo as yours, but I see resemblances with the bird you photographed.

    The description on the photo is:

    Great Blue Heron, juvenile
    Natural Bridges SP, Santa Cruz, CA


    • Hi Glen, yours is certainly a Great Blue Heron. We have tons of them around here and that is exactly what they look like. You can see why I don’t think mine is a juvenile because yours, a juvenile, already has all its colours. Thanks for the visit and comments Glen.

  6. She’s stunning! I have never seen a Heron like this before and am in awe of her gorgeous pale blue feathers!

  7. robert says:

    I’d go with the color morph of the GB, as well, seeing that white morphs have gray legs, like yours.

  8. Allan Culver says:

    Hello Anne

    My wife is registered with the California Fish and Game as a songbird rehabilitator and often is holding a bird and quite often cannot identify them. People that have done rehabbing for years are quite often stumped.

    So here is her best guess, a Great Blue Heron color variant.

  9. John Maloney says:

    Hi Anne, Your bird a lucistic color morph of a Great Blue Heron. John

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