JULY 12, 2005
Serious students of bird identification might enjoy the following e-mail conversations that I had with Rich Paul, who worked for many years monitoring wading bird populations around the Tampa Bay, FL area. 
Rich Paul (RP):  Artie -- Ann and I have looked at those heron kids for awhile (Note:  first photo below.) They are, definitely, either Snowy Egret chicks or Little Blue Heron chicks.  This is an extremely difficult distinction! 
Arthur Morris (AM): Agree. 
RP: I favor Snowy Egret, because Little Blues should have primaries with ashy tips that become visible by now, and perhaps duller bills/lores. 
AM: Close but no cigar...
RP: Snowies can have rather pinkish bases to their bills until they are older, and these show it to some degree. 
AM: As you know, the bill color of young snowies can vary tremendously.  I have seen same-sized young in one nest where one bird has a pinkish/grey bill while its nest-mate has a bright yellow bill.  Some birds even have orange-yellow bills like Great  Egret chicks...
RP: We are confident that they aren't Cattle Egret chicks:  they would have blackish bills and lores.
AM: Agree.
RP: So there you have it, a definite maybe.  Would you like me to consult someone else about this?
AM: No need.  I know what they are.  I too thought that they were young snowies until they got fed by an adult Little Blue!   It was my first chance with little blue nestlings.  Your analysis was good but you were tricked by the bird on our right (in the first image below)...  I believe that the primaries are not visible on this bird, and that what you thought were the primary tips might have been the greater coverts--all white.  Look closely, however, at the undersides of the primaries on the left wing of the bird on our left.  The dusky blue/grey typical of pre-fledging Little Blue chicks is evident there.  There were three sets of triplet Little Blues right next to the boardwalk at St. Augustine last week.  In my experience at the Alligator Farm that Little Blue nests have always been pretty much buried and always far from the boardwalk so my visit on 5 July was both a great treat and a great learning experience.  See additional images below, including the primary feather image that I optimized just for you <smile>
Here is our next exchange:
RP: You devil.  Knew it all along and were just testing me. 
AM:  Gotcha!  <smile>
RP: If I were a better observer and trusted my eyes, I would have seen the wingtip you mentioned.  (Ann got the i.d. right, by the way)
AM: Good for her!
And by the way, that bottom pic is a Little Blue.  Leg color, like bill color, can be a bit variable with these guys and in my opinion the ashy primaries outweigh everything else (but Ann thinks it's a Snowy!).  See also if you think the bill doesn't appear quite as "sharp" as the Snowy bills in other photos.
AM: I would bet on the tricky one being a snowie.  All of the little blues had yellow or greenish yellow legs...  I'm betting on mud on the primaries.  The developing black on the front of the legs clinches it for me.  Tell Ann that she is right!  <smile>
Best and love,  artie
The original quiz photo:  Little Blue Heron pre-fledglings
All images copyright 2005 Arthur Morris/
Above are the same two birds as in the first photo.  Note the dusky grey undersides on the primaries of the stretched wing.
The close-up above is of an individual from a clutch to the left of the nest-mates shown above.
Above is a Cattle Egret chick that is slightly younger than the little blue chicks shown above.  Note the dark lores.
Above is a fledged Cattle Egret with the bill color that you described.  Note the dark indigo lores (the skin between the eyes and the base of the bill.)
Above is a typical Snowy Egret fledgling. 
Above is a grown Snowy Egret chick with an atypically orangish bill.
This is the mystery bird:  What do you think?  Snowy Egret or Little Blue Heron???   



The Art of Bird Photography; It Ain't Just Birds! Weekend Seminars
    Atlanta, Georgia, July 30-31, 2005  Presented by Photo Road Show
Dallas, Texas,  September 24-25, 2005
If you already know everything that there is to know about nature photography, why should you attend???

Here's why: In addition to two great days of learning and laughing, and more than 1200 great iamges, there will be loads of great door prizes including Lowepro Roadrunner AWs!  (One will be given away at both the Atlanta and Dallas Seminars.)


These seminars are for all nature photographers who want to learn how to make better images. I will describe the methods and techniques that I have developed and used since 1983.  My comments on equipment (including and especially digital equipment), autofocus, light, composition and image design, and sharpness and my tips on getting close to wild subjects and photographing action and behavior will benefit everyone with a telephoto lens who wishes to dramatically improve the quality of their images. Since going all-digital in November 2002, I have--in short order--become a digital photography and Photoshop expert.  My approach to optimizing images is to create a master file of excellent quality in the shortest possible time.  I will share our workflow and numerous Digital and Photoshop tips during the Sunday sessions.


Weekend package (2 days): $159.  Either Saturday or Sunday:  $109.  To register send a check for the full amount made out to "Arthur Morris" to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855.  We accept credit cards by phone: 863-692-0906.  In either case, we need your e-mail address, your mailing address, and your daytime and evening phone numbers. Here is the Cancellation Policy  for these events:  Photo Road Show is relying on your attendance, so if for any reason you need to withdraw, please notify Arthur Morris as soon as possible.  Once we receive written notice of your cancellation the following fees apply: cancel 31+ days prior to the start of the workshop and your fee will be refunded less a $50.00 cancellation fee; cancel less 30 days prior to the date of the workshop and there will be no refund. 


The Atlanta Venue is the Renaissance Waverly Hotel.  There are no special rates available at this location.  Please e-mail us at for a list of additional lodging options.  


The Dallas event will take place at the Verizon Place Hotel & Conference Center- DallasThis beautiful facility is adjacent to the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and offers around the clock shuttle service to and from DFW.  There is a special rate on rooms for this event:  $79 single and $89 double occupancy.  To get the Photo Road Show preferred rate, 1-800-731-6131 and mention "booking # 1576".  Room availability is limited so be sure to take advantage of this offer soon!


Please e-mail us at to request the SAT/SUN schedules.


Best, and love and great picture-making to all,  

Note: Arthur Morris has been a Canon contract photographer since 1994 and continues in that role today.  Hunt's Photo of Boston, MA is a BIRDS AS ART sponsor, as is Delkin Devices.  Do feel free to forward this Bulletin to one or more photographer-friends. Those wishing to subscribe click here: mailto:  To unsubscribe, click here:   Back issues of all BAA Bulletins and relevant BAA Notes are archived on the web site at: