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|Snowy Egret x Little Blue Heron (hybrid) (Egretta thula x caerulea) Herons, Egrets and Bitterns (Ardeidae)|
2017-09-16 Ipala, Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco (Jal), Mexico
Tentatively calling it a such hybrid! Similar to 2992. And taking the fact that both birds were seen within few kilometers of each other, albeit in different years, this is an indication that some mixed offspring is being produced in the area.
What makes it very likely that there is Snowy Egret involved in this bird, is the leg coloration which almost look like it does on a pure young bird. But more important, on Snowy the yellow of the cere, loral skin, continues up over the bill, whereas on a Little Blue Heron it ends at the bill base. Here it can be seen to continue up over the bill, although, perhaps not as marked as on a pure bird, but that should be expected on a hybrid of course. The strong yellow color of the cere should not be possible on a pure Little Blue either.
Compared to 2992 the ornamental feathers don't seem to be as long or well-developed, but this is perhaps more related to the time of year, present bird is from autumn, and 2992 is from spring. The bluish coloration of the two birds looks the same, and is very good for a young Little Blue Heron. The bill also seems more like the bill of the Little Blue Heron, but perhaps slightly slimmer, which would also be expected on a hybrid.
I don't think it is relevant to consider other combinations of hybrids here, all characters seen seem to fit well between the two mentioned, and none are seen from the other known hybrid partners (to Snowy), Cattle and Tricolored.
Extra note: Comparing the two birds, the big white patch toward the rear end of the bird, created by the wings, look very similar, but details on the bill and the distribution of the dark color make me think they are two different birds. And if this is the case, it would then be logically to assume that they both belong to the same brood, why it should be safe to call the bird in 2992 an adult.
2019-03-30 Mayto, Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco (Jal), Mexico
Tentatively calling it a such hybrid!
The combination of the yellow cere, yellowish legs with black on the front side, the long ornamental feathers, all good for Snowy, with the bluish dark patches, good for a young Little Blue, makes me say that this is a hybrid rather than an aberrant pure Snowy. Simply the color of the bluish parts, matching perfectly the color of a young Little Blue Heron, makes me doubt that it is a pure Snowy struck by melanism. And the opposite is of course even less likely, that it should be a pure aberrant Little Blue hit by a rare combination including perfect Snowy characters. The lack of dark wing tips also is against a pure young Little Blue. The bill seems to be better fit for the Little Blue, but perhaps on the long side, again supporting hybrid. Both Snowy and young/non-breeding Little Blue have yellow iris.
Adding the information that according to Pyle and revision of photos online, Snowy normally has the yellow of the cere continue up over the bill, whereas Little Blue Heron has the cere color stop at the base of the bill. Unfortunately most photos taken were overexposed around the head, but I still think it is possible to appreciate the yellow continuing up over the bill in picture 6, thus, indicating that Snowy Egret is involved in the production of this bird.
See also 3002 of a similar looking bird seen in 2017 a few kilometers further south, in Ipala.
Comparing the two birds, the big white patch toward the rear end of the bird, created by the wings, look very similar, but details on the bill and the distribution of the dark color make me think they are two different birds. And if this is the case, it would then be logically to assume that they both belong to the same brood, why it should be safe to call this present bird an adult.