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.

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

Today’s science recognises two subspecies of Reddish Egret, and the separation generally corresponds to an east-west division of their population. On the west coast of Mexico (including Baja California), and south to the Pacific shores of northern Central America, lives E. r. dickeyi. In the east from Florida south through the West Indies and Cuba, and the Caribbean shores of northern South America, the gulf coast of the USA, the east coast of Mexico to norther Central America, lives E. r. rufescens. We only see the White Morph of this bird in the subspecies E. r. rufescens.

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