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This month's quiz bird is fairly obviously a white heron of some sort, with its virtually all-white plumage and long, trailing legs. Assuming that our bird is not abnormally white, the list of possibilities consists of eight or nine species: Great, Intermediate, Chinese, Little, Snowy, Reddish, and Cattle egrets and Little Blue Heron and Western Reef-Heron. While the last species has occurred in the ABA area, there is not definitive proof that a white-morph individual has occurred, so we'll, tentatively, excise that species from the list.
Our bird has yellowish legs and a pale bill, so we might arbitrarily eliminate those black-billed species and black-legged species that make up a large percentage of our list of possibles. However, juveniles of most or all species have soft parts of different colorations than do older birds, so let's not be quite so hasty.
As our bird is old enough to be flying, the complete lack of black on the legs may, indeed, eliminate Great, Snowy, and Little egrets, as once juveniles of those species reach flying age, they usually have at least some black on the legs. We could go through a lot of other features, but, despite my abhorrence for single-field-mark identifications, I'm going to do exactly that. Looking at our bird's wingtips, we can see that the outer 3-5 primaries are tipped dark. Thus, our bird is a juvenile Little Blue Heron.
I took this picture of a juvenile Little Blue Heron at Sunset Beach, Cape May Point, Cape May Co., NJ, on 21 September 2008.
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the December Bird Photo Quiz—Little Blue Heron:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Tony Leukering.