Reddish Egret

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Image:ReddishEgret.jpg

Common Name: Reddish Egret (Dark Morph)
Scientific Name: Egretta rufescens

Size: 27-32 inches (68-82 cm)

Habitat: North and Central America; a resident breeder in Central America, The Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Gulf Coast of the United States, and Mexico. The species frequents shallow coastal waters, salt-pans, open marine flats and shorelines; it is rarely recorded away from the coast. It breeds on islands and in mangroves.

Status: Near Threatened. Global Population: 10,000-19,999. Despite its large range it occupies a restricted habitat and is patchily distributed. For this reason it is assumed to have a moderately small and declining global population. Populations were heavily exploited for food in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, fluctuations occur at some colonies, apparently relating to predators which can cause rapid declines; recoveries have been observed following predator control. Threats to the species are not well understood, but it is likely to have declined in parts of its range owing to commercial development of the coastline.

Diet: Fish, frogs, crustaceans, and insects.

Nesting: The sexes are similar. Reddish Egrets' breeding habitat is tropical swamps. They nest in colonies, often with other herons, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. These colonies are usually located on coastal islands. These birds have raucous courtship displays. They general involve shaking of the head during the greeting ceremony, followed by chases and circle flights. They also involve raising of the neck, back and crest feathers, accompanied by bill clacking. During mating, male plumage stands out in a ruff on its head, neck and back.

Cool Facts: There are two color morphs. The adult dark morph has a slate blue body and reddish head and neck with shaggy plumes. The adult white morph has completely white body plumage. Young birds have a brown body, head, and neck.

The Reddish Egret is considered one of the most active herons, and is often seen on the move. It stalks its prey in shallow water far more actively that other herons and egrets. It frequently runs energetically and uses the shadow of its wings to cut down on glare of the water once it is in position to spear a fish; the result is a fascinating, graceful dance.


Found in Songbird ReMix Shorebirds Volume I

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