Monday, November 26, 2012

Reddish Egret

Egretta rufescens
The Reddish Egret is an appropriately named species of Heron that can be found in Central America, and around the Gulf Coast in the United States. They stand a little under 3ft tall, and typically sport long dark legs, reddish heads and necks, and slate-grey coloration on the wings and back.

Do not confused them with Snowy Egrets! Now, you may wonder how anyone could mistake a red and grey bird for an all white one, but it happens! You see, Reddish Egrets have a white color morph. This means that they sometimes turn out completely white, much like their Snowy cousins. The two actually do have a slight overlap in ranges, so the easiest way to figure them out is by the color yellow. Snowy egrets have some yellow on their beaks and feet, Reddish Egrets do not.

Reddish Egrets are most active during dusk and dawn, and they are usually seen on the move. They hunt for prey in shallow waters, running around in search of Fish, Amphibians, and Crustaceans. The Herons often move about with their wings outstretched, as this creates shade and reduces glare on the water surface.

As far as reproductive issues are concerned, the Reddish Egret reaches sexual maturity around 4 years of age. Their courtship displays include head bobs, chases, and various flights, but once a mate is chosen they remain monogamous for at least that season. The couple will build a nest together, either on the ground or in a tree, and they often nest in very large colonies that can contain hundreds of birds. They lay up to 4 eggs, and the color of the chicks depends on the color of the parents. Dark morph parents can have chicks of either color, but two white morph parents will always have white morph offspring.

Reddish Egrets are listed as Near Threatened due to habitat degradation. Like many other birds, they were hunted extensively in the 19th century for their feathers, but their population has since rebounded.

IUCN Status : Near Threatened
Location : North and Central America
Size : Length up to 32in (.8m), Wingspan up to 50in (1.3m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Pelecaniformes
Family : Ardeidae -- Genus : Egretta -- Species : E. rufescens

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