It is not possible to confuse the Squacco Heron with any other species in the Iberian Peninsula.
Both sexes of the Squacco Heron have similar plumage.
It is possible to recognize 3 different ages:
Juvenile specimen: they are individuals similar to the adult, only that, with shorter and clearer head (nape) and neck feathers. Something that stands out in these specimens is the dark brown color. The feathers of the back and the scapulas are of a faded brown color. The rectrices have slightly blurred brown spots. Another remarkable fact is the rachis of the primaries, in juvenile specimens it is completely dark brown.
2nd year specimen: they have a second generation plumage, which results in a great wear in which they have lost most of the brown speckling of the wings and rectrices, but in the juvenile primaries the brown rachis and brown spots in the tips still remain.
Adult specimen: the nape feathers are much longer (over 140 mm), striped with brown-white-black. The feathers of the back and scapulas are pink-ante color. The rectrices are white.
Squacco Heron undergo a complete post-nuptial molt, which they usually finish in the wintering areas. On the other hand, the post-juvenile molt is a partial molt, in which only the body feathers molt. This molt begins in the breeding areas and is considered finished in the wintering areas. Both ages perform a prenuptial molt in which they acquire the courtship plumage, changing at the same time some wing coverts and secondary infra-coverts.
Primaries: 10 per wing.
Secundaries: 15-17 per wing.