Courtesy Kenn Kaufman
Little Blue Herons breed along the Atlantic coast from southern Maine to Florida, with concentrations from South Carolina southward. Breeding across the Florida peninsula, this egret is distributed unevenly around the Gulf Coast and coastal plain, with the greatest densities in Louisiana. Little Blue Herons also breed up the Mississippi River valley into Illinois and through eastern Texas into Kansas. Wintering territory shrinks back to the warmer coasts. Little Blue Herons also occur throughout the Caribbean, Central America, and South America as far south as Uruguay.
A legend for the range map to the right can be found here
Little Blue Herons nest in small trees, shrubs, and mangrove stands near or over water. Estuaries, saltwater and freshwater marshes, and river bottoms are used for feeding and breeding. This heron forages in marshes, lagoons, canals and ditches, impoundments, ponds, streams, and flooded fields, usually where vegetation is emerging or mature. Young Little Blue Herons prefer more open, shallow water. Wintering habitat is similar.
This dark, deliberate stalker walks, pauses, crouches, and stares to find prey. Its diet includes small amphibians; small fish such as anchovies, drum, and killifish; crustaceans such as crayfish and crabs; and insects such as bees, dragonflies, flies, and grasshoppers. This heron often forages alone, but juvenile, white Little Blue Herons often join Snowy Egrets to forage in open waters.
In colonies with other herons, ibises, and Anhingas, Little Blue Herons usually nest in short trees and tall shrubs. Males form small territories, three to six feet wide, and begin to build nest platforms. The most common display is the "neck stretch," in which the male elongates his body upward, then collapses down with bill still up but neck folded, wings opened, and legs bent. A soft "unh!" punctuates the display. Pair bonds last for the season. The male gathers twigs and passes them to the female, who constructs the loose nest, with few or no leaves. Both sexes incubate up to six blue-green eggs for about 22 days, then brood, feed, and defend the white hatchlings together.
Little Blue Heron hatchlings can barely raise their heads and must pick regurgitated food from the nest floor for a few days before they can take food directly from the adults. Young birds leave the nest in about five weeks, but return to roost at night after foraging with other white herons.
They disperse from their natal area before migrating in mid-fall.
After breeding, Little Blue Herons disperse in all directions, but favor the north. Pushed southward by cooler temperatures, usually in late September, this bird migrates via traditional routes along rivers and coasts, with frequent stops to forage and roost. Southern populations move as far south as Central America, and immature birds often remain there through the next year. Spring migrants appear along the mid-Atlantic coast in late March. Southern breeders are essentially residents.