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jonesmunoz

Great Blue Heron?

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A friend took this picture this morning in Stillwater, OK. It’s bill doesn’t seem the correct color to me to be a Great Blue Heron. Is it? Thanks 

9E16075B-EF35-4E86-9BAB-3BD4893725B9.jpeg

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6 minutes ago, gstacks said:

Is there anything else that size?

(Serious question. Not a rhetorical one.)

Off the top of my head, Great Egret, Sandhill Crane, Wood Stork would fall into that height

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I guess I meant is there anything else that size that looks close to a great blue? In other words, I’ve never paid attention to bill color when ID-ing a great blue 

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12 minutes ago, Tony Leukering said:

Always pay attention to bill color. One never knows when it will come in handy.

That’s my question. When would bill color be handy in identifying a great blue heron?

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14 minutes ago, gstacks said:

That’s my question. When would bill color be handy in identifying a great blue heron?

If I understand your question, there isn't much you're likely to mistake a Great Blue for where bill color would be useful.  @Kerrimentioned Wood Storks, which are about the same size but are strictly white and black birds with featherless heads; not much chance of needing the bill to tell them apart.  Sandhill Cranes are darker, larger, chunkier birds; I guess there could be times when the bill color could be needed to tell them apart but I can't imagine anyone with ten minutes experience with either bird needing to use it.  It certainly won't be much help telling the white color morph 'Great White Heron' of Florida from a Great Egret.

But to Tony's point, you should always notice the bill color of any bird.  In this case (and others), it's a good way to separate immature birds from adults.  You're not likely to mistake bright red Nothern Cardinal for much else, but an orange bill says the bird is an adult; a dark one says it isn't.  It's a good habit to get into because it's also useful in separating other, more easily confused species.  Don't make a point of looking only for specific field marks, look at the whole bird.  (Of course, do as I say, not as I all too often do!)

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Thanks!

I understand the general principle of the importance of bill color. But as you said, I was specifically talking about great blue herons. I see them pretty frequently and have never had trouble IDing them. Then the original poster's question made me think twice. I suddenly worried that I had been making a mistake. But I think for great blues I'm ok with ignoring bill color if I'm just IDing that species.

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1 hour ago, gstacks said:

I guess I meant is there anything else that size that looks close to a great blue? In other words, I’ve never paid attention to bill color when ID-ing a great blue 

If you are in Newfoundland, a vagrant Gray Heron could be possible. I believe they are duller with a darker neck and no cinnamon by the wing (at least that’s what my rare birds of North America by Howell says). But the chances of seeing those elsewhere, especially inland in the lower 48 or inland Canada, is extremely low. There only other records away from there are a few in the western Alaskan islands and one in New Brunswick right now. 

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While the chance of needing bill color/pattern to ID a Great Blue Heron is slight, it is not zero. As example, Great Blue Heron when at rest often holds its neck folded and it's head sitting on its shoulders. From various viewpoints, this can create an appearance of its head that is surprisingly similar to that of adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. If the bird is not close, this appearance can be further exacerbated by the loss of definition and uncertainty of what color is on what part. I would provide examples at this time, but eBird seems to be having problems right now displaying individual photos.

Additionally, as Charlie wrote, it's an excellent habit to inculcate in one's everyday birding.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Tony Leukering said:

eBird seems to be having problems right now displaying individual photos

Or this could be a problem at the Macaulay Library end of things, and that problem persists to the time of this addition.

Edited by Tony Leukering
addition

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