A small white wading bird with a slim, pointed, black bill; long legs are all black or black with yellow-green on the back side (juveniles); toes yellow; breeding adult has long plumes on head, neck, and back; lores yellow, turning red in adults during breeding season; average length 61 cm, wingspan 104 cm.
For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.
Differs from Great Egret in being much smaller (length 61 cm vs. 99 cm) and in having a black bill rather than a yellow one. Differs from immature Little Blue Heron in having predominantly dark legs (vs. dull yellow), a slimmer mostly black bill (vs. two-toned with gray base and dark tip), and usually paler wing tips. Differs from Cattle Egret in being larger (length 61 cm vs. 51 cm), slim rather than stocky, and in having a black bill (vs. yellow or red-orange) and predominantly dark legs (vs. yellow or dusky-red). Differs from rare white-phase adult Reddish Egret in having yellow toes and lacking a two-toned pink-and-black bill.
Western Hemisphere Range
Probably migrates southwest to CA, AZ, TX and points south.