New York Natural Heritage Program
Little Blue Heron
Egretta caerulea (Linnaeus, 1758)
Birds

Habitat [-]
Little blue herons inhabit a variety of aquatic habitats, including lakes, ponds, rivers, and both salt and fresh water marshes. On the coast preferred habitats are salt marshes, ponds and mud flats. Wooded swamps, ponds and streams are utilized in inland situations. In New York, they utilize coastal salt marsh scrub/shrub islands; nesting in dense thickets or in trees. They forage in the estuaries surrounding these islands (Rodgers and Smith 1995; McCrimmon 2006; New York Natural Heritage Program 2009).

Associated Ecological Communities [-]
  • High salt marsh
    A coastal marsh community that occurs in sheltered areas of the seacoast, in a zone extending from mean high tide up to the limit of spring tides. It is periodically flooded by spring tides and flood tides. High salt marshes typically consist of a mosaic of patches that are mostly dominated by a single graminoid species.
  • Low salt marsh
    A coastal marsh community that occurs in sheltered areas of the seacoast, in a zone extending from mean high tide down to mean sea level or to about 2 m (6 ft) below mean high tide. It is regularly flooded by semidiurnal tides. The mean tidal range of low salt marshes on Long Island is about 80 cm, and they often form in basins with a depth of 1.6 m or greater.
  • Salt panne
    A shallow depression in a salt marsh where the marsh is poorly drained. Pannes occur in both low and high salt marshes. Pannes in low salt marshes usually lack vegetation, and the substrate is a soft, silty mud. Pannes in a high salt marsh are irregularly flooded by spring tides or flood tides, but the water does not drain into tidal creeks. After a panne has been flooded the standing water evaporates and the salinity of the soil water is raised well above the salinity of sea-water.

Associated Species [-]
  • Great Egret (Ardea alba)
  • Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
  • Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)
  • Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)
  • Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)
  • Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)