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lots of not so native birds have shown up in the US so while it's easy, on the one hand, to say this HAS to be a great blue heron based on location... you just never know.

almost 12:30 AM here and I should be going to bed so I'm not digging out the field guide at the moment but if you have one that has the gray heron in it, take a look at the field makrs very carefully.
I myself have seen several young great blue herons that I've questioned... mostly because they were young and the plumage was just off... like the thighs being gray instead of the reddish color they ought to be. But most of the time, a good look at side by sides and reading the notes helps clarify it.

If more thoughts aren't added to this bird by the time I see it again, after I sleep, I'll see if I can't compare and point out more than just location.
It's pretty safe to say it's a great blue but, at least for me, it's always fun to question and look at the possibilities. ?

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6 hours ago, millipede said:

lots of not so native birds have shown up in the US so while it's easy, on the one hand, to say this HAS to be a great blue heron based on location... you just never know. ... It's pretty safe to say it's a great blue but, at least for me, it's always fun to question and look at the possibilities. ?

Grays are strictly Old World.  It can be fun to look at the possibilities but sometimes it can be taken to extremes, at least for identification purposes.  There's no apparent evidence to question this being anything other than a GBHE.

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party pooper... 

5 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Grays are strictly Old World.  It can be fun to look at the possibilities but sometimes it can be taken to extremes, at least for identification purposes.  There's no apparent evidence to question this being anything other than a GBHE. 

Not picking on you(wish tone could be picked up better online, well I think in real life my tone is difficult to pick up on as well... ?  )
But, I disagree with the overall sentiment there. I mean, I follow that myself when it comes to some things that are actually open to more possibilities than this. Here in Arkansas during the summer months we have the ruby-throated hummingbird... that's all for hummingbirds. So if one zips past me and I don't study marks(not that I'm good with hummingbirds) I still just write down RTHU.  Because 99.9999% of the time that's what it's going to be. So, I get that logic and reason.

HOWEVER......  stuff does show up where it's not supposed to. A gray heron reaching the lower 48 is extremely unlikely but, not impossible...  at all.
And for not so experienced birders that might look at a Great blue and wonder... looking past "it HAS to be a _____" is useful. In my opinion anyway...  I don't think it's "extreme" or a waste of time to entertain those possibilities... I think it can actually be a learning moment for some of us.

Got my daughter's Sibley(2nd) out to compare the two so I can spell out a few little details that are hard to pick up. The first is a very good indicator of GBHE... the upper legs.
You can barely see them sticking out but you can see that little bit of a reddish/brownish color up there.  Basically if you see that, it can't be gray heron. The gray heron adult would have white and the juveniles more of a gray...
BUT...  I've seen several(have lots of pictures) great blue herons with gray up there...  Those are the ones that had me scratching my head... 
At what I might call the shoulder, Sibley calls the "bend of the wing,(at least on the gray)" the adult gray would show some white there while the GBHE would have that reddish brown color.

Sibley shows some differences in flight... doesn't spell out a few things but comparing the pictures you'd expect a shorter face/bill and a shorter neck... though those things can be difficult to judge.

The chances of a gray showing up are VERY slim indeed but if someone questions a bird they see, to me that's the perfect opportunity for people to look at and hopefully learn some of those differences... just in case. Not only for our own benefit so we don't go around asking about EVER heron we see... but also so that if one does show up some day it's not just ruled a great blue just because of location.

Lots of words there... I ramble. Hope it made sense. These opportunities are how I personally learn so I can see the benefit for others in such discussion...  I hope it doesn't drive the more experienced birders nuts but, this is the whole point of this forum.  ? 

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We'll have to agree to disagree on this one.  Hummingbirds straying out of their expected range by a couple hundred miles are one thing, esp. during migration and these days of climate change.  Introducing the possibility of a bird from another continent, a bird not equipped for transoceanic migrations, is another critter entirely.  The possibility is so slim that introducing it only confuses the identification.

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  Millipede, I think the point is to start with the expected.  If you see something that makes you wonder, then pursue it, but don't declare zebra just because you see a horse with a funny tail.  It better have stripes as well.

So is there anything in this immature bird, like white right to the bottom of the eye, or lack of brownish tones in the grey?   No, this bird has black all around the eye and subtle brown tones here and there.  So, it's a horse not a zebra.

Scott

Edited by cavan wood
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25 minutes ago, cavan wood said:

Millipede, I think the point is to start with the expected

well my point is that, while I agree with that, for some CURIOUS and not as experienced people, we need more than "it's a ____ just because of location."  And that's what is often given. I don't think there's anything wrong with looking for a better explanation now and then.
The OP asked if it was a gray. I said nothing to suggest it was in any way... I wasn't encouraging the idea of continuing to consider it as a possibility. I just want to go beyond location.

37 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

can't we disagree to agree? 
There are other birds that can be looked at the same way in whether they should realistically show up in the US. Should the little egret find its way here? There seems to be one in Maine every summer or two.
I think it's good to START with that expected and say that is probably is something because that's what should be here BUT... that's not always enough to go on.
Distance wise my hummingbird comparison is off, sure... but the principal is the same. If I just assume that EVERY hummingbird buzzing by is a RTHU and I can't pick up on enough field makrs to not ID another one, I'm going to overlook something interesting some day.
If someone can't look at this bird and see it's a great blue heron, I think it's good for us to explain the physical features IF we can, and not just location location location. It's a learning opportunity. And a challenge to anyone that is experienced, if all you can say is location location location, this is a good opportunity for you as well. You might be that person that stumbles upon a VERY lost gray heron some day and, I doubt you'd want to miss out on ID'ing it for that reason.

I'm rambling again. I try too hard to explain where my thoughts are coming from and I think that makes things worse sometimes. Not trying to stir anything up... I just think it's important for anyone asking, what seems like a wild ID request to all of you, that they're able to actually learn from the response in some way.
If this was a "what is this bird?" question, a simple "great blue heron" is a fine response. But when someone asks if it's one thing, I just think it's good to be able to explain in better detail why it is not.

Again, I'm not TRYING to be difficult... though it might seem that way. I'm actually trying to be helpful.

37 minutes ago, cavan wood said:

So is there anything in this immature bird, like white right to the bottom of the eye, or lack of brownish tones in the grey?   No, this bird has black all around the eye and subtle brown tones here and there.  So, it's a horse not a zebra. 

That's what I wanted people to say rather than what had been said... that it can't be a gray heron because they don't exist here. eh... thanks. I'll back out of the conversation now. 

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Hard not to feel attacked by trying to keep things simple and give the easiest and most drastic difference between the two species.  Was under the impression that OP didn't know about the range difference and was just trying to point it out.  Apologies if I offended anyone with my original response.

 

To the OP, this is a Great Blue Heron because of:

 

1. Location

2. Longer neck, bulkier and larger overall than Gray Heron (size not obvious in this photo, but for future reference Gray Herons should be noticeably smaller)

3. Rufous coloring on thighs, Gray Herons lack that color in the same spot

 

Also, it's a juvenile because of the dark crown, lack of head plumes, and brownish coloration on the body.

 

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20 minutes ago, IvoryBillHope said:

Was under the impression that OP didn't know about the range difference and was just trying to point it out.  Apologies if I offended anyone with my original response.

no need to apologize for that. Most of my rambling back and forth was in response to the pushback I got for my pushback on the idea of giving the ID based on location alone. Was all friendly even if it didn't feel that way. 
 
I apologize to anyone that I made feel attacked or just generally uncomfortable.  And I apologize to the original poster for the excessive discussion. Hopefully it isn't too overwhelming. ?

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