Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)

Tricolored Heron

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Ardeidae | [latin] Egretta tricolor | [authority] Muller, 1776 | [UK] Tricolored Heron | [FR] Aigrette tricolore | [DE] Dreifarben-Reiher | [ES] Garceta Tricolor | [NL] Witbuikreiger


Monotypic species


Egretta is a genus of medium-sized herons, mostly breeding in warmer climates. Representatives of this family are found in most of the world, and the Little Egret, as well as being widespread throughout much of the Old World, has now started to colonise the Americas. Little Egret Egretta garzetta in Kolleru, Andhra Pradesh, India.These are typical egrets in shape, long-necked and long-legged. There are few plumage features in common, although several have plumes in breeding plumage; a number of species are either white in all plumages, have a white morph (e.g. Reddish Egret), or have a white juvenile plumage (Little Blue Heron). The breeding habitat of Egretta herons is marshy wetlands in warm countries. They nest in colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs.

Physical charateristics

Medium-sized long-legged long-necked wader with a fairly long and pointed and yellowish or blue-grey bill with black tip. Usually holds neck in an “S” curve at rest and in flight, obvious White belly and foreneck.
The adult has a blue-grey head, neck, back and upperwings
White line along foreneck. In alternate plumage, long blue filamentous plumes about head and neck, and buff ones on the back. Immatures more reddish, sexes similar

Listen to the sound of Tricolored Heron

[audio: Heron.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 90 cm wingspan max.: 100 cm
size min.: 55 cm size max.: 70 cm
incubation min.: 20 days incubation max.: 22 days
fledging min.: 33 days fledging max.: 22 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America, Latin America : Southeast USA to North South America


This species inhabits mangroves, coastal mudflats, wetlands, rivers and lakes. It is somewhat more common in coastal regions.


Breeds in monospecific or in mixed colonies and nest in trees near water and 2 to 4 meters above ground. Nest is a platform made out of sticks and small branches built by female. Clutch size 3-6 eggs, incubated for 21-25 days, young fledge after about 35 days.

Feeding habits

Feeds by slowly walking through shallow water, mostly aquatic Invertebrates and fish.

Video Tricolored Heron


copyright: R. J. Schaefer


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Breeds along coast from New Jersey, USA southward to Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America. Winters in most of its breeding range. Abundant in Surinam, the tricolored heron can be seen along the river in Paramaribo.
Tricolored Heron status Least Concern


North American populations generally migratory, wintering Southern USA to North South America, and returning to colonies of South USA in March-May. Wintering population leaves Panama early February, some birds spend all year within nesting range. Nominate race sedentary. Post-breeding dispersal in populations of North less marked than in other North American herons. Accidental in Canada, Lesser Antilles, Brazil and Azores. Very common along the coastline in Surinam, sedentary.

Distribution map

Tricolored Heron distribution range map

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