Not very good pictures, but saw this bird I have never seen before out my window enter image description hereenter image description here

Location: Salem, Oregon, USA

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology Stack Exchange. It would help to have information on where the bird was seen (i.e., what country / state / province), and what the surrounding habitat is like (i.e., rural / urban / wooded / etc.) $\endgroup$
    – bshane
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ Seen in Salem,OR surrounding is urban right in the city. $\endgroup$
    – Tay
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 22:38
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    $\begingroup$ It's probably a type of heron, thought it's probably going to be difficult to identify definitively with those pictures. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 22:44
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    $\begingroup$ Looks like a great blue heron, but the markings aren't clear enough to be certain. The black cap, shoulders, etc. are good matches. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 23:32
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with @anongoodnurse. Could you tell us a bit about the general area you live and it might narrow things down. $\endgroup$
    – hamilthj
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 1:05

1 Answer 1


Although the picture is blurry, this almost certainly is a great blue heron (Ardea herodias).

enter image description here enter image description here

© Helen Pine, FL, March 2008 (Left)
© Brian Guest, FL, March 2009 (Right)

The coloration and size are what give it away. From All About Birds:

  • Size: Largest of the North American herons. 97–137 cm long, 167–201 cm wingspan, and weighing 2100–2500 g (up to 6 lbs).
  • Color: Appear blue-gray from a distance; white in the face with a wide black stripe over the eye.

    In flight, the upper side of the wing is two-toned: pale on the forewing and darker on the flight feathers.

    • That white spot on it's lower neck? That's their built in napkin:

      specialized feathers on their chest that continually grow and fray. The herons comb this “powder down” with a fringed claw on their middle toes, using the down like a washcloth to remove fish slime and other oils from their feathers as they preen

  • Range: The heron is common across much of the US, including as a year-round inhabitant across Oregon.

    enter image description here

    Source: All About Birds

Ecology: The heron typically feeds on fish and spend much of its time in marshes, along streams/lakes, or near other bodies of water. I would guess you have a body of water or swampy/marshy area somewhat nearby where you saw this specimen.

How to distinguish from other (seemingly) similar species?

The Great Blue Heron’s massive size and white in the face separates it from other dark herons such as Little Blue Heron and Tricolored Heron. Sandhill Cranes are more uniformly gray, and adult Sandhills have a vivid red crown. In flight, a Sandhill Crane keeps its neck outstretched and flies with snappy wingbeats, flicking its wings quickly upward. Great Blue Herons fly with their heads pulled back against their shoulders and have smooth, deliberate wingbeats, barely raising their wings above horizontal. Sandhill Cranes are less widespread than Great Blue Herons and are typically seen in flocks. Great Blue Herons travel solo, except if you catch them during migration when you might see up to 10 together. [Source].


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