[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Ardeidae | [latin] Egretta rufescens | [UK] Reddish Egret | [FR] Aigrette roussatre | [DE] Rotelreiher | [ES] Gerceta Rojiza | [NL] Roodhalsreiger | [Authority] Gmelin, 1789

Reddish Egret determination

Egretta is a genus of medium-sized herons, mostly breeding in warmer climates. Representatives of this family are found in most of the world, and the Little Egret, as well as being widespread throughout much of the Old World, has now started to colonise the Americas. Little Egret Egretta garzetta in Kolleru, Andhra Pradesh, India.These are typical egrets in shape, long-necked and long-legged. There are few plumage features in common, although several have plumes in breeding plumage; a number of species are either white in all plumages, have a white morph (e.g. Reddish Egret), or have a white juvenile plumage (Little Blue Heron). The breeding habitat of Egretta herons is marshy wetlands in warm countries. They nest in colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs.

copyright: Paul Clarke

In breeding season, note the pinkish, black-tipped bill. Two color phases: (1) neutral gray, with rusty head and neck; (2) white with blue legs. Loose-feathered; neck shaggy. When feeding, lurches about, wings half spread; acts drunk.

Coastal tidal flats, salt marshes, shores, lagoons. Do es 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.

Mostly fish. Primarily eats small fish, with minnows, mullet, and killifish reported as major percentages; also frogs, tadpoles, crustaceans, rarely aquatic insects. Behavior: 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.

This species has been uplisted to Near Threatened because, 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.

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. Ma y 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. Clutch 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. Usually 1 brood per year.

Gulf States, West Indies to northern Venezuela; Baja California to El Salvador. Occasional within dash line. Migration: 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.

Range: North America, Middle America : South USA, Caribbean. Egretta rufescens occurs in Baha California and disperses south along the Pacific coast of Mexico, but the majority are found in the Caribbean along the southern coast of the USA, through the Caribbean islands and down the Central American coast to northern Colombia and Venezuela.