Chasing Birds: Little Blue Heron in Boise

WC and Mrs. WC are not hard-core chasers; that is, we don’t travel extraordinary distances at the drop of a rumor to see an uncommon or rare bird. We’re more a kind of casual chaser; if the bird is reasonably close and reasonably rare, we will probably eventually get around to chasing it down.

And so, eventually, we made an effort to find the juvenile Little Blue Heron that has been reported along the northern part of the Boise Rive rGreenbelt.1

The thing about a juvenile Little Blue Heron is that it isn’t blue. It’s white. A Little Blue Heron isn’t blue until it is an adult, about two years old. A juvenile Little Blue Heron looks remarkably like a non-breeding Snowy Egret.

We found the bird easily enough; a completely white bird stands out this time of year in Boise. It was foraging along the edge of  large pond in the Parkcenter area of Boise.

Little Blue Heron, Boise, November 15

Little Blue Heron, Boise, November 15

But WC thinks you will agree that’s not much of a photo (the bird is the tiny dot dead canter). Ideally, you’d want to get a lot closer and photograph the bird, not a tiny, white dot. So WC and Mrs. WC set out to do so. It was complicated; that part of Boise has a series of large apartment complexes with no trespassing signs and the like. But after a few false starts, and finding a route that allowed us to avoid seeing any of those no respassing signs, we got to where the bird had been. And it was gone.

Which led to some more searching, and eventually we found it in a accessible spot. But it was working the edge of a pond, partially screen by a large clump of reeds.

Closer, but screen by reeds

Closer, but screen by reeds

Okay, that’s acceptably close, but WC thinks you will agree that the out of focus reeds in the foreground are pretty distracting. You’d really like the bird to move along to a point where the reeds don’t block the shot. But the thing about herons is that as often as not they stand in one place, waiting for an unsuspecting fish or other pretty to come to them.

This bird, happily enough, was a little less patient than WC and Mrs. WC, and did eventually get out into the open.

Little Blue Heron, Classic Hunting Pose

Little Blue Heron, Classic Hunting Pose

There is still one reed at the back of the bird, but we’ll chalk that up to habitat. The pose is the classic serial, slow, walk-peer-walk sequence. The lifted leg gives the photo a little more energy, enough maybe to make up for the stray reed.

If you were to look at a range map for this species, it would show that Little Blue Herons don’t occur in Idaho. But sometimes birds get their migration wiring “backwards” and head the wrong direction. Or maybe this bird was just contrarian. Or didn’t get the memo.

In any case, WC is happy to welcome the bird to Boise, and wishes it well. Finding a rare bird is always a treat. Getting a decent photo if it makes it even more fun.

  1. The Boise River Greenbelt is a riverine corridor of parks and bicycle paths extending continuously along some 25 miles of the Boise River, centered in downtown Boise. it’s what some folks would like to do with the Chena River through downtown Fairbanks, but Fairbanks has a ways to go. 

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