Tricolored Heron

Egretta tricolor

Image by ‘DickDaniels’ on Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Physical: The tricolored heron gets its name from its blue-grey, lavender, and white plumage. Unlike other dark-colored herons, the tricolored heron has a big white stripe down its neck and white belly. Juveniles have a reddish neck with other red spots across its body. Adults grow to 60-70 cm with a wingspan of 95 cm.

Habitat: Tricolored herons live in coastal marshes, swamps, streams, and shorelines. Their range starts at the Chesapeake Bay down to the Gulf of Mexico, extends to both coasts of Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and parts of South America. They come to the Barnegat Bay to breed.

Feeding: As solitary foragers, they drive off other birds from their feeding grounds. They wade into the water, waiting for prey to come or picking through the sediment. Their diet consists mostly of small fish, crustaceans (crayfish, prawns), insects, tadpoles, frogs, salamanders, lizards, and spiders.

Breeding: Tricolored herons breed in colonies, often along with other wading birds. Males find a spot in the colony and begin displaying for mates, stretching their necks, bowing their heads, and taking display flights. The female then builds the nest with materials provided by the male, up in trees or in dry scrub, 2-10 ft above the ground. Clutches consist of 3-4 pale blue-green eggs, incubated for 21-25 days.

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