Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
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GREAT WHITE HERON
GREAT BLUE HERON WHITE MORPH
Great white herons are found primarily in the Florida Keys, the Yucatan Peninsula and the Caribbean.
They are also less frequently seen in the southern areas of the Florida peninsula.
Great white herons are typically about 10% larger than great blue herons and have an all white plumage. They can be differentiated from great egrets (Ardea alba) by their larger size and pale legs. (Great egrets have black legs and feet.) Where both great blue and great white herons are found, there is also often an intermediate morph, called Würdemann's heron, usually having the body color of a great blue, with a white head and neck.
The great white heron was first identified as a separate species called Ardea occidentalis, but is now generally accepted as a color morph of the great blue heron, Ardea herodias. Recent discussions have raised the question; are the two herons the same species, different subspecies, or completely different species. David Sibley in his original The Sibley Guide to Birds listed the great white heron is a color morph of the great blue. However he has recently stated that there appears to be a case for it being at least a subspecies (Ardea herodias occidentalis)