All Herons In New Brunswick (ID, Photos, Calls)

New Brunswick has been home to seven of the 17 species of herons that live in North America on a regular basis. There are another five that are uncommon or unintentional. This guide will assist you identify and understand more about these long-legged birds.

Herons, which can be found in saltwater, freshwater, or even peering into your backyard pond for a quick snack, are water-loving birds.

Nevertheless, many of your fish herons are protected, so if you’re having trouble catching them with a net, then that’s your best option.

Herons prefer to hunt alone, either by standing motionless and waiting or by dashing about to confuse the prey, but they often build huge colonies known as heronries.

A collection of herons is known as a “rookery,” and there are a slew of other terms for it, such as “battery,” “hedge,” and so on.

You may learn more about the ducks, swans, and pelicans you can see here if you like seeing waterbirds in New Brunswick.

12 Species Of Heron In New Brunswick

1. Great Blue Heron

During the breeding season, Great Blue Herons may be seen along the New Brunswick coast, but their numbers increase dramatically from August to October during autumn migration.

They are seen on 11% of summer checklists and 24% of migratory checklists for the province, according to birdwatchers’ reports.

The largest heron native to North America, Great Blue Herons are very big and magnificent birds.

Their face is white, with a black head plume that stretches from the front of their eyes to the rear of their heads. Yellowish-orangish is the color of their bills.

Their bodies are grayish-blue, and their legs are long gray. They have long gray necks with black and white streaking in the front.

  • Ardea herodias
  • Length: 46 – 52 in (117 – 132 cm)
  • Weight: 128 oz (3628 g)
  • Wingspan: 77 – 82 in (196 – 208 cm)

Most American states have Great Blue Herons, but they migrate south during the breeding season.

In Florida, the Great Blue Heron is divided into two subspecies: the Great White Heron.

Several wetland settings are home to Great Blue Herons. Freshwater and saltwater marshes, mangrove swamps, flooded marshes, lake edges, and shorelines are all possible habitats for them.

Great Blue Herons’ main diet consists of fish, frogs, salamanders, shrimps, crabs, dragonflies, grasshoppers, and other aquatic insects.

Fun Fact: With their heads thrown back, Great Blue Herons protect their feeding grounds with spectacular wing-outstretched exhibitions.

2. American Bittern

In western New Brunswick, American Bitterns breed, but from May to July in the east of the province, their numbers rise. They start migrating in October after arriving here in April. Summer checklists account for 2% of all checklists, whereas migration checklists account for 4%.

In the spring of the American Bittern, you may hear their peculiar watery boom cries before you see them, if you’re lucky. Below are a few examples of them.

The Heron family includes American Bitterns, which are robust, medium-sized solitary birds.

Because of their brown striped and mottled patterning, they appear like the reeds they hide in, with their head tilted upwards and their ability to stay still among the reeds.

They have short legs and yellow eyes that turn orange during courtship.

  • Botaurus lentiginosus
  • Length: 23 in (58 cm)
  • Weight: 25.6 oz (726 g)
  • Wingspan: 42 – 50 in (107 – 127 cm)

Before migrating to the Gulf Coast and Mexico, American Bitterns breed in Canada and northern US states.

Shallow, freshwater marshes and wetlands with tall reeds are the most common places to find American Bitterns.

Look for them among the coarse vegetation on the edges of lakes and ponds.

Fish, crustaceans, insects, amphibians, and small mammals make up the diet of American Bitterns. They wait motionlessly and quietly in the reeds, waiting for their prey to approach before leaping out quickly to seize them in their beaks.

American Bittern Calls: Their peculiar watery boom calls might be heard. It’s one of the most unusual bird calls around.

The water, hidden among rough vegetation, is home to nests of American Bitterns. Females pick a location for the nest, which they construct out of nearby reeds, sedges, cattails, and other plants.

They lay seven eggs and incubate them for around twenty-six days. The females feed the chicks directly into their beaks when they are hatched. They leave the nest after two weeks, and it takes six to seven weeks for them to be completely fledged.

Fun Fact: Like the reeds that hide them to conceal themselves, American Bitterns point upwards and sway gently from side to side.

3. Great Egret

In New Brunswick, Great Egrets are only seen on 1% of checklists throughout the autumn migration in August and September.

Males have neon green facial skin and long, wispy feathers (aigrettes) extending from their backs to their tails during the breeding season, which they display off during courting like a peacock flares out its tail. Great Egrets are at their best then.

They’re Great White Herons because of their huge size and complete whiteness. Common egrets are another name for them. These huge birds have long, black legs and feet and dagger-like, long, bright yellow beaks.

Males, ladies, and juveniles look similar when they are not breeding.

  • Ardea alba
  • Length: 37 – 41 in (94 – 104cm)
  • Weight: 59.96 oz (1699 g)
  • Wingspan: 54 – 55 in (137 – 140 cm)

The Great Egret is a bird that can be found all over the globe. Those in the southern and coastal US states stay there all year, whereas those further inland go south during the winter.

In freshwater and saltwater marshes, as well as fish ponds, you may observe Great Egrets.

Fish, frogs, small mammals, crustaceans, and insects make up the majority of the diet of Great Egrets. Great Egrets will stand on the water, waiting and scouting for their victim, then they’ll spring and spear it with their long bills until you see them standing motionless.

In colonies, Great Egret nests may be found. To keep their nests safe from predators like raccoons, they are often put high in trees, typically on islands.

Marsh plant sticks, twigs, and stems are used to make them. Both parents incubate the eggs for around twenty-five days, which they lay up to six eggs.

Fun Fact: Due to their lengthy white feathers (aigrettes), the Great Egret was on the verge of extinction. They were primarily utilized to embellish ladies’ headdresses.

4. Black-crowned Night-Heron

New Brunswick, particularly in the northeast of the province, is home to Black-crowned Night-Herons. Between June and September, they’re most often seen.

The typical description of the heron family does not apply to Black-crowned Night-Herons or simply Night Herons. With a shorter bill, neck, and legs than most other species, it is stocky.

The black crowns of adult Black-crowned Night-herons extend from a white line above their black bills.

The lores (area in front of the eye, towards the beak) are green-blue, and their eyes are red. On the bottom, they’re white, but on the back, they’re black. Yellow is the hue of their legs and feet.

The black head and back turn glossy blue-green during the breeding season, with two or three white feathers appearing on the crown. The legs and feet become red or pink, while the lores turn black.

Adults have some streaking and spotting on their dull grayish-brown body.

  • Nycticorax nycticorax
  • Length: 25 – 28 in (64 – 71 cm)
  • Weight: 38.8 oz (1100 g)
  • Wingspan: 44 – 45 in (112 – 114 cm)

The range of black-crowned night herons extends across the globe. Before traveling south, they breed in the United States and Canada. Along the beaches, some may be found all year.

Wetland habitats such as shallow freshwater or brackish rivers are home to Black-crowned Night-herons. Artificial habitats such as reservoirs, canals, and fish ponds are also used to house them.

Night-feeders such as crayfish and fish, as well as turtles and worms, are black-crowned Night-herons. They eat whatever they can find.

In preparation for selecting their mates, male Black-crowned Night-herons build nests in bushes or trees, which are started by them.

The female will deposit up to seven eggs every two days. For about twenty-four days after the eggs are placed, both parents start incubating them. Over the next three weeks, the parents will look after their newborn.

Fun Fact: For more than a century, the National Zoo in Washington, DC has hosted a colony of Black-crowned Night-herons during the summer.

5. Snowy Egret

During the breeding season, from April to mid-October, snowy egrets are often seen along New Brunswick’s coast, although they are not particularly common.

Snowy Egrets are little all-white herons, as their name implies. Their irises are yellow, and their skin is around their eyes is long. Their beaks are long, and their feet are bright yellow.

Long, lacy feathers grow on their heads, necks, and backs during the breeding season. During courtship, their lores and toes become reddish-pink, and their skin becomes orange-red.

During aggressive encounters, these regions of their bodies also become vivid red.

Adults and juveniles share the same appearance, but they lack head plumes. Their bills and legs are also lighter in color, with lores and legs that are more greenish-yellow.

  • Egretta thula
  • Length: 22 – 27 in (56 -69 cm)
  • Weight: 16.75 oz (475 g)
  • Wingspan: 39.4 in (100 cm)

Except along the Gulf Coast and southwest coast, snowy egrets migrate across most of the United States. Throughout Mexico, Central and South America, they stay all year.

Snowy Egrets may be found in marshes, riverbanks, lakesides, pools, salt marshes, and estuaries in shallow wetland environments. They like wet woods with protective trees and plants for breeding.

Fish, crustaceans, snails, frogs, and crayfish are all hunted by snowy egrets in shallow water. They may rest quietly while awaiting prey to come to them or stirring the water so that their prey is easier to see and capture.

Males select the nests of Snowy Egrets. They choose a spot and put on a full display in order to attract mates. The males continue to offer sticks, sedges, or reeds to the females as they pair up and start construction of the nest.

Nests are frequently found in trees or shrubs on the ground, and they’re often hidden. Both parents take turns incubating their eggs after the female lays two to six eggs. The incubation period is normally twenty-four days.

Fun Fact: Because of their exquisite white head feathers, Snowy Egrets were on the verge of extinction. They could be used as a ladies’ hat decoration or accessory.

6. Green Heron

In New Brunswick, green herons are seen infrequently, however they may be seen from May to September.

The glossy green-black color of their crowns, crests, backs, and wings makes Green Herons stand out against a backdrop of dark green; however, you’ll need to come closer to appreciate this when they appear hunchbacked and gloomy.

During the breeding season, their bills turn black, which are two-toned with a dark top and a yellow bottom. Their irises and legs, too, turn orange as they age.

During the breeding season, their bills become two-toned: dark at the top and yellow at the bottom. Their iris and legs become orange as well, starting with yellow.

Chestnut or maroon are the colors of their heads, necks, and breasts. A white central stripe runs down the length of the neck, down to the rear. Gray is the color of their bellies.

Browner and with a higher crest than adults, juveniles are darker.

  • Butorides virescens
  • Length: 18 – 22 in (46 – 56 cm)
  • Weight: 9.17 oz (260 g)
  • Wingspan: 25 – 26 in (64 – 66 cm)

Before migrating south, Green Herons breed mostly in the eastern US and on the Pacific Coast. The Gulf Coast, the Caribbean, and Mexico, on the other hand, will be around all year.

Green Herons may be found in damp places with deep vegetation, such as bogs, marshes, lakes, and ponds. They may stay in arid woods or orchards if there are water sources nearby, despite their preference for coastal and inland wetlands.

Little fish, insects, spiders, crustaceans, snails, amphibians, reptiles, and rodents make up the Green Herons’ diet. Rather of wading, they usually hunt from the coast by perched on sticks over the sea.

Green Heron nests are constructed of long, thin twigs placed high in the trees over water, however they may also be discovered on the ground hidden beneath plants.

Females lay two-day intervals between laying up to six eggs. The final egg is deposited, and both parents begin incubation, which lasts around twenty days. When the eggs they have hatch, they both feed their young.

Fun Facts:  Bait, such as bread, feathers, twigs, and leaves, are used by green herons to catch their prey. This is one of the few bird species that do so. (Davis and Kushlan, 1994)

7. Little Blue Heron

In New Brunswick, Little Blue Herons are considered uncommon or accidental, but they were seen in Saint John, Dorchester, and Cocagne in 2022.

Little Blue Herons aren’t really that little, after all. With long, elongated bodies, they range in size from medium to large. Their heads and necks have dangling feathers over the nape, which gives them a purple coloration.

During the breeding season, their eyes can turn gray-green. Two-toned – pale blue or grayish with black tips – their long, dagger-shaped bills are two-toned. They have slate-blue skin. They have long, black to gray-green legs.

Before turning dark gray, blue, and white, Juvenile Little Blue Herons are totally white throughout their first year.

  • Egretta caerulea
  • Length: 24 – 29 in (61 – 74 cm)
  • Weight: 16.22 oz (460 g)
  • Wingspan: 40 – 41 in (102 – 104 cm)

Before going south, Little Blue Herons breed in the eastern United States, but those in the Gulf Coast and Mexico remain throughout the year.

Little Blue Herons may be seen near water, such as in marshes, ponds, rivers, streams, lagoons, tidal flats, canals, ditches, and fish hatcheries.

In comparison to other herons, Little Blue Herons forage in a more elegant manner. They simply rest and wait in shallow waters for their prey, rather than speeding about across the water.

Fish, frogs, snakes, turtles, spiders, crustaceans, mice, and insects make up the diet of Little Blue Herons. juveniles prefer to stay with mixed groups, whereas adults tend to forage alone.

Little Blue Heron nests are constructed of sticks and are frequently found in groups with other herons. Up to six eggs are laid by the female. For up to twenty-four days, both parents share in the incubation process.

Fun Fact: Juvenile Little Blue Herons have white feathers that make them look like Snowy Egrets, allowing them to capture more fish and provide additional defense against predators.

8. Least Bittern

Although there have been reports of Least Bitterns near the province’s south in 2022, they are not often seen near New Brunswick.

In the reeds, you may hear Least Bitterns before you see them. They are the smallest herons in South America.

The smallest herons in the Americas, least bitterns are difficult to locate in the reeds, but you may hear them first.

They have a dark cap and top to their yellow beak, and they are brown and white shades. They grip the reeds with their long toes and claws.

With lighter backs and crowns, adult females and juveniles are similar to males.

  • Ixobrychus exilis
  • Length: 11 – 14 in (28 – 36 cm)
  • Weight: 3 oz (85 g)
  • Wingspan: 16 – 18 in (41 – 46 cm)

The normal habitat of Little Bitterns is Europe and Africa, however they may enter North America on occasion.

Least Bitterns may be located in lush freshwater and brackish marshlands, with plenty of tall cattails and reeds. When they perch on reeds, look for them.

They will immediately freeze stiff, raise their bills to the sky, and sway in time with the reeds when they sense danger.

The female of the Least Bitterns builds well-concealed nests out of cattails and marsh vegetation. Over twenty days, both parents incubate the eggs she lays up to seven. After that, they regurgitate food to feed newly hatched chicks.

Fun Fact: Long necks and a hunchbacked stance are distinctive characteristics of Least Bitterns.

9. Cattle Egret

In New Brunswick, Cattle Egrets are considered uncommon or unintentional, however they have been spotted on rare occasions.

Cattle Egrets use a cunning method of capturing their meals…they perch on the backs of cattle and capture the startled prey when the cattle move and shake the earth.

The bodies of Cattle Egrets are white, and their heads, necks, and backs are covered with pale orange-brown markings.

Their eyes and skin are yellow in color. They have greenish-black legs and small yellow beaks. Males and females have a similar appearance.

During the breeding season, Cattle Egrets change color and become more visible, especially on their legs and face.

Their pale orange patches darken during the breeding season. At the height of their courting, their bills, legs, and irises become bright red, and their facial skin (lores) becomes pinkish-red.

  • Bubulcus ibis
  • Length: 19 – 21 in (48 – 53 cm)
  • Weight: 17.98 oz (510 g)
  • Wingspan: 36 – 38 in (91 – 97 cm)

Cattle Egrets may be found across the globe, with those in Mexico, the Gulf Coast, and the southwestern United States remaining year-round.

Nonetheless, after breeding, those that breed farther north, primarily in the eastern United States.

Cattle Egrets may be found in grasslands, pasture, agricultural fields, and rice fields where there are hoofed animals, particularly around the edges.

They will go into the edges of aquatic settings, such as riverbanks, ponds, and shallow marshes, despite their preference for remaining on land and on top of cattle. Golf courses, lawns, sporting fields, dumps, and parks are also common places to find them.

Insects, mostly grasshoppers, crickets, flies, beetles, and moths are the mainstays of the Cattle Egret’s diet. Spiders, frogs, small snakes, lizards, earthworms, and fish are among the animals they eat.

Cattle Egret nests are often created in woodlands near lakes or rivers, in bogs, or on tiny islands and are constructed of sticks and reeds.

Females lay up to nine eggs, which are incubated for about twenty-five days. The young take around 45 days to fledge, become independent from their parents, and grow up.

Fun Fact: For judging distance to capture prey on land rather than correcting for light refraction while feeding in water, the Cattle Egret’s eyes have evolved binocular vision.

10. Tricolored Heron

In New Brunswick, Tricolored Herons are an uncommon sight and have been declared an accidental species. They were discovered in Saint John and White Head Island in 2022, however.

The white belly and neck stripe of a Tricolored Heron distinguishes it from other herons.

Adults that are not breeding have a blue-gray, purple, and white plumage. Yellowish or greyish in color, with a black tip, their bills are They have yellow or olive green legs and feet.

The back of the head of breeding adults is also covered with thin, white feathers, and the base of their beak turns blue. On their necks and backs, they have finer feathers. Their legs, too, become reddish in hue.

The neck, upper breasts, upper back, and wings of juveniles are much reddish-brown in color.

  • Egretta tricolor
  • Length: 24 – 26 in (61 – 66 cm)
  • Weight: 14.6 oz (414 g)
  • Wingspan: 36 in (91 cm)

Throughout the Gulf Coast, Mexico, and northern South America, tricolored Herons may be seen all year. Those that breed farther north travel south as far as the Atlantic Coast.

Tricolored Herons may be found in freshwater and brackish marshes, as well as coastal tidal pools and swamps.

Tricolored Herons are protective of their feeding sites and eat by themselves. Other wading birds will be chased away, and they like to devour tiny fish, frogs, crustaceans, and insects.

Stalking, racing, standing, and waiting for their victim are all behaviors you may expect. Before striking, they squat low in the water, with their bellies and necks pushed up to the surface.

Tricolored Heron nests are formed from sticks and placed in trees and shrubs, forming colonies. The female lays three to five eggs, which are shared by both parents in the incubation period of three weeks before they hatch. The young are also fed by both of them.

Fun Fact: The sole dark-colored heron with a white belly, the Tricolored Heron was once known as the Louisiana heron.

11. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

New Brunswick is home to the yellow-crowned night-heron, which is an accidental species. They’ve only been spotted around Alma and Grand Manan in 2022, but they’re incredibly rare in the province.

Yellow crowns with two plumes extend from the heads of adult Yellow-crowned Night Herons. They have gigantic black bills. Their remaining heads are black, with a little white patch on each side of their eyes.

As they grew up, their eyes became red, starting with a yellow color and ending with an orange color.

Their wings have a scaled design and they are gray-blue in color. During the breeding season, their legs grow longer and turn color as follows: yellow, pink, or red.

Grayish-brown with white streaks and markings, juveniles begin life. It takes three years for them to reach adulthood.

  • Nyctanassa violacea
  • Length: 22 – 28 in (56 – 71 cm)
  • Weight: 25.6 oz ( 726 g)
  • Wingspan: 42 0 44 in (107 – 112 cm)

Before migrating south, yellow-crowned night-herons breed mostly in southeastern states. Throughout the year, they may be found in Mexico, the Caribbean, and northern South America.

In coastal places with a lot of crustaceans, shallow waters, and plentiful edges on which to feed, you may see Yellow-crowned Night-herons at day and night.

Yellow-crowned Night-herons eat crustaceans such as crabs and crayfish for the majority of their diet. Fish, insects, worms, mollusks, lizards, snakes, rats, and birds are among the animals they consume. Little prey may be devoured instantaneously by them.

Crabs are usually killed by being dismembered or stabbed.

Yellow-crowned Night-herons build nests near water in small, loose colonies, which they frequently find. Both parents build the nests out of grass, leaves, or moss-softened sticks and twigs.

After that, she deposits up to eight eggs, which they hatch over three weeks. The eggs are fed through regurgitation when they hatch. They fledge in around a month and, at the age of fifty, can fly on their own.

Fun Fact: A deadly mosquito-borne virus (EEE virus) can kill horses and humans, and yellow-crowned night-herons may carry it.

12. Little Egret

In New Brunswick, Little Egrets are considered an accidental species, and they were last seen in Bouctouche in 2016, according to records.

The white bodies of Little Egrets contrast sharply with their black bills. Long, thin necks, black beaks, yellow eyes, yellow lores (facial skin), long black legs, and yellow feet are among their characteristics.

Wispy feathers on the backs of Little Egrets’ heads, neck, and back are visible during the breeding season. At the height of courtship, their faces become red, and their feet turn pink or red.

In addition, there are black morphs with a bluish-gray hue instead of white.

Juveniles are grayer/browner and have greenish-black legs and duller yellow feet than adults. They appear the same as adults.

  • Egretta garzetta
  • Length: 22 – 26 in (56 – 66 cm)
  • Weight: 17.6 oz (499 g)
  • Wingspan: 34 – 41 in (86 – 104 cm)

Little Egrets are casual visitors to the United States and Canada, with a normal range of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Little Egrets may be found around waterways, such as lakeshores, riverbanks, ponds, lagoons, marshes, and waterways; however they may also hunt in fish ponds.

Little egrets feed primarily on fish by disturbing the water to frighten them out or standing still and waiting for them to appear.

Little Egret nests are typically constructed on elevated sticks in reed beds or mangroves and are formed on platform sticks. The materials for building are often found by males, and the construction is done by females.

Little Egret nests are typically constructed atop reed beds or mangroves, and are generally made out of platform sticks. The material for building is usually found by males, who then transport it to females.

The female lays six eggs, which are incubated by both parents for roughly three weeks. For approximately two weeks, both parents look after their child. After six weeks, they fledge.

Fun Fact: Because of the craze for feathers for adorning headgear at the period, the Little Egrets were once thought to be extinct in Ireland and Great Britain.

How Frequently Herons Are Spotted In New Brunswick In Summer And Winter

Checking which birds are most often seen in your state can be done using checklists. On checklists on ebird in summer and winter in New Brunswick, these lists indicate which herons are most commonly recorded.

Herons in New Brunswick in summer:

Great Blue Heron 11.4%

American Bittern 2.5%

Black-crowned Night-Heron 0.6%

Great Egret 0.3%

Green Heron 0.2%

Snowy Egret 0.2%

Least Bittern 0.2%

Little Blue Heron <0.1%

Cattle Egret <0.1%

Tricolored Heron <0.1%

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron <0.1%

Little Egret <0.1%

Herons in New Brunswick in winter:

Great Blue Heron 0.3%

American Bittern <0.1%

Great Egret <0.1%

Cattle Egret <0.1%

Black-crowned Night-Heron <0.1%

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