Tricolored heron

The tricolored heron (Egretta tricolor), formerly known as the Louisiana heron,[2] is a small species of heron native to coastal parts of the Americas. The species is more solitary than other species of heron in the Americas and eats a diet constiting mostly of small fish.

Tricolored heron
Tricolored Heron by Dan Pancamo.jpg
Egretta tricolor in Quintana, Texas
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Egretta
E. tricolor
Binomial name
Egretta tricolor
(Müller, 1776)
Egretta tricolor map.svg
Range of E. tricolor
  Breeding range
  Year-round range
  Wintering range

Habitat, breeding, and distributionEdit

Tricolored herons breed in swamps and other coastal habitats and nests in colonies, often with other herons, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. In each clutch, three to seven eggs are typically laid. The tricolored heron is the second most coastal heron in the United States.[2]

The species' range follows the northeastern United States, south along the coast, through the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, to northern South America as far south as Brazil. In the Pacific region, it ranges from Peru to California, but it is only a nonbreeding visitor to the far north.

It was likely the most numerous heron in North America until the cattle egret arrived to the continent in the 1950s.[2] While the species' population appears to be on the decline,[2] it remains quite common.[3] The bird is listed as "Threatened" by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.[4]


This species measures from 56 to 76 cm (22 to 30 in) long and has a typical wingspan of 96 cm (38 in).[5] The slightly larger male heron weighs 415 g (14.6 oz) on average, while the female averages 334 g (11.8 oz).[6] It is a medium-large, long-legged, long-necked heron with a long, pointed, yellowish or greyish bill with a black tip. Its legs and feet are dark. The plumage of the triclolored heron changes dramatically from its juvenile form to its adult form.[4]

Adults have a blue-grey head, neck, back, and upper wings, with a white line along the neck. The belly is white. In breeding plumage, they have long, blue, filamentous plumes on their heads and necks, and buff ones on their backs.[3]

Behavior and dietEdit

The tricolored heron is more solitary when foraging than other North American herons. When it forages for its prey, mostly small fish, it is typically belly-deep in water, alone or at the edge of a mixed flock.[3][2] The species also eats amphibians,[7] crustaceans, gastropods, leeches, worms, spiders,[8] reptiles, and insects.



  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Egretta tricolor". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22696931A93594077. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22696931A93594077.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e Frederick, Peter C. (2020). "Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor), version 1.0". Birds of the World. doi:10.2173/bow.triher.01.
  3. ^ a b c "Tricolored Heron". Audubon. 2014-11-13. Retrieved 2022-12-31.
  4. ^ a b "The Tricolored Heron Has More Than Three Colors". Audubon Florida. 2019-07-15. Retrieved 2022-12-31.
  5. ^ "Tricolored Heron". All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
  6. ^ "Biological and Ecotoxicological Characteristics of Terrestrial Vertebrate Species Residing in Estuaries: Tricolored Heron". USGS.
  7. ^ "Egretta tricolor (Tricolored heron)".
  8. ^ "Egretta tricolor (Tricolored heron)".

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit