Reddish Egret

Egretta rufescens
Range Map

Like its cousin the Little Blue Heron, we normally find the Reddish Egret in Central America, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Gulf Coast of the United States, and Mexico. Sightings in San Diego have become regular in the past few years.

Reddish Egrets are perhaps the most active hunters in the clan of waders. I enjoy watching them ‘dance’ over the shallow waters to scare prey into the open. One of their signature moves is to circle their wings overhead like an umbrella to bring their fish prey into view. While this umbrella move isn’t as dramatic as its African cousin the Black Heron, they will use their wings to create a shadow and cut the glare from the water’s surface to better see their prey.

Today’s science recognises two subspecies of Reddish Egret, and the separation corresponds to an east-west division of their population:

  • E. r. dickeyi lives on the Baja California Peninsula, around the Gulf of California, and south to Sinaloa, Oaxaca, and Chiapas. Vagrants regularly show up in Southern California.
  • E. r. rufescens lives around the Gulf of Mexico and on the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and Caribbean coasts of Central America and in northern South America. We only see the White Morph of this bird in the subspecies E. r. rufescens.

In Texas, I found a white-morph Reddish Egret foraging in the surf at the mouth of the Rio Grande. I first thought it was another Snowy Egret until I examined the photos I took showing both species, and I noticed the discrepancies.

19 Photos

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