When you Hear Hoofbeats, Think Horses not Zebras – Daily Prompt: Name that…

WordPress has asked us today if we know the meaning of our name, and why our parents chose that name for us. I’m an adopted person and have no clue.

So, enough about me! Let’s talk members of the heron families – they’re much more interesting.

Egret head-shot for comparison: great egret vs intermediate egret.

Egret head-shot for comparison: great egret vs intermediate egret.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you may have noticed that just under two weeks ago, an egret was noticed on the lake here for the first time. My focus for the past decade has been on great blue herons, and so I wasn’t entirely sure which variety of egret is visiting us. Snowy Egrets were ruled out immediately – they have yellow feet, but this egret does not. The Great White Heron was also quickly ruled out since it isn’t found this far north. Cattle Egrets were never in the equation due to size and coloring. It also isn’t a Little Blue in breeding plumage.

It meets many criteria for the Intermediate Egret: the tip of the beak is brown, the top of the head is rounded, the gape ends fairly near the back of the eye, the neck is not longer than the length of the body, etc. That said, when comparing this egret to the many photos online, it could also be deemed a Great Egret if Great Egrets also have brown beak-tips.

I have read exhaustive descriptions of both birds online, and there seems to be some confusion, and many mislabeled internet photos, too. (Say it isn’t so, misinformation on the internet!)

So, a question for the bird experts of WordPress from Africa, Asia, and Australia where the Intermediate Egret is found in great numbers. Does this bird resemble one of your egrets?

One phrase that’s sometimes used when training physicians in the art of diagnosis is “When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras.” It’s a reminder to rule out the most common causes for symptoms first, before testing for the exotic or obscure.

Because my Egret is in New England, the most common label would be Great Egret, but I’m just not 100% positive.

Thanks in advance for any expertise people can share!


Thanks to Michelle W. and WordPress for the Daily Prompt nudge.


(This took place August 20, 2013)

© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Posted on September 2, 2013, in Art, Birds, daily prompt, Egret, Nature, Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Weekly Challenge, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Do you use the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as a reference? If not, suggest you check “allaboutbirds.org”.

  2. This is a link to a picture I took almost 12 months ago of a heron trying to see off a great white egret at my local wetlands (WWT Llanelli). I don’t know if this is of any use to you. http://pilipala51.wordpress.com/?s=great+white+egret

  3. All those years working together and I never knew that you were adopted. A quick search shows that your name is English in origin and means “Lord.” Not bad!

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