|Conservation status||Numbers were decimated by plume hunters in late 1800s. Reportedly not seen in Florida between 1927 and 1937, but numbers have gradually increased under complete protection. Current United States population roughly 2000 pairs. White morph apparently made up a higher percentage of the total population prior to persecution by plume hunters.|
|Family||Herons, Egrets, Bitterns|
|Habitat||Coastal tidal flats, salt marshes, shores, lagoons. Does most feeding in calm shallow waters along coast, in protected bays and estuaries. Nesting habitat is mostly in red mangrove swamps in Florida, on arid coastal islands covered with thorny brush in Texas.|
Has a wide variety of feeding behaviors. Often very active, running through shallows with head tilted to one side, suddenly changing direction or leaping sideways. May stand still and partly spread wings; schools of small fish may instinctively seek shelter in the shaded area thus created. Also feeds more placidly at times.
3-4, sometimes 2-7. Pale blue-green. Incubation is by both sexes, probably about 25-26 days. Young: Both parents feed young. Young may leave ground nests at about 4 weeks and wander about island, but probably not capable of sustained flight until 6-7 weeks.
Both parents feed young. Young may leave ground nests at about 4 weeks and wander about island, but probably not capable of sustained flight until 6-7 weeks.
Mostly fish. Primarily eats small fish, with minnows, mullet, and killifish reported as major percentages; also frogs, tadpoles, crustaceans, rarely aquatic insects.
Generally breeds in spring in Texas; in Florida may breed mainly in winter or spring. In courtship, male perches in future nesting site, stretches head and neck upward and backward with shaggy feathers fully raised, then tosses head forward repeatedly. May perform a variant of this display in flight. Male also walks in circles around female standing in shallows, tossing his head and raising one or both wings. Breeds in colonies. Nest: Site is typically on ground in Texas, 3-15' above water in mangroves in Florida. Nest, built by both sexes, a platform of sticks or grass.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Mostly permanent resident, but some Texas birds may move south in winter. Wanders north along Gulf and southern Atlantic coasts, very rarely inland. Birds from western Mexico wander north into California.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsSquawks and croaks.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Reddish Egret
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Climate threats facing the Reddish Egret
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