Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis)

Western Reef Heron

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Ardeidae | [latin] Egretta gularis | [authority] Bosc, 1792 | [UK] Western Reef Heron | [FR] Aigrette Garzette | [DE] Kustenreiher | [ES] Garceta Comun | [NL] Westelijke Rifreiger


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

This bird has two plumage colour forms. There is an all-white morph and a dark grey morph; intermediate morphs also occur. The white morph is similar in general appearance to the Little Egret, but has a thicker bill, duller legs, and a less elegant appearance. The grey morph is unlikely to be confused with any other species within the range of this egret.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 58 cm size max.: 62 cm
incubation min.: 20 days incubation max.: 25 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 25 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 6  


Africa, Eurasia, Oriental Region : West Africa, Northeast Africa to West India, Sri Lanka


Race golares coastal on rockyor sandy shores and reefs, less frequently occupies estuaries, mudflats, salt marshes mangroves andtidal creeks, occasionally inland.


Nests on ground or in reedbeds, bushes or trees up to 20 m also ledges or rocks or in mangroves.
2-6 eggs incubation 20-25 days, chicks have white down.

Feeding habits

These birds stalk their prey in shallow water, often running or shuffling their feet; they may also stand still and wait to ambush prey. They eat fish, crustaceans, and molluscs.

Video Western Reef Heron


copyright: citybirder


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 may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to 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.
The Western Reef Heron, Egretta gularis, also known as the Western Reef Egret, is a medium-sized heron. It occurs mainly on the coasts in tropical west Africa, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and east to India. It has been recorded as a vagrant in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, an Australian territory in the eastern Indian Ocean
Western Reef Heron status Least Concern


Extensive post-breeding dispersal. Palearctic breeders partially migratory: W populations winter around Mediterranean, Middle East and particularly tropical Africa; E populations migrate to S of China, SE Asia and Philippines, although large numbers remain in Japan. Populations of Africa, India and Australia sedentary, with some dispersal or nomadism; birds ringed in E Australia recovered in New Zealand and New Guinea. Races gularis/schistacea apparently resident and dispersive; accidental to Europe and USA. Race dimorpha strictly sedentary. Migratory populations prone to overshooting in spring

Distribution map

Western Reef Heron distribution range map


Title Striking of underwater prey by a reef heron, Egretta gularis schistacea
Author(s): Gadi Katzir and Nathan Intra
Abstract: The ability of a piscivorous bird, the western ree..[more]..
Source: J Comp Physiol A (1987) 160:517-523

download full text (pdf)

Title Stationary underwater prey missed by reef herons, Egretta gularis: head position and light refraction at the moment of strike
Author(s): Gadi Katzir et al
Abstract: This paper attempts to verify the importance of sp..[more]..
Source: J Comp Physiol A (1989) 165:573-576

download full text (pdf)

Title The Economic Impact of the Western Reef-
Heron (Egretta gularis) on the Town of
Kittery, Maine in August of 2006.
Author(s): Jeannette and Derek Lovitch
Abstract: The presence of a Western Reef-Heron in Kittery, M..[more]..
Source: The Wild Bird Center of Yarmouth

download full text (pdf)

Title First confirmed record of Western Reef-Heron (Egretta gularis) for South America
Author(s): William L. Murphy and Winston Nanan
Abstract: At 3 P.M. ON WEDNESDAY, January 22, 1986, a group ..[more]..
Source: Am. Birds 41(1):16-27

download full text (pdf)

Title Western Reef-Heron Egretta gularis in Brazil (Ciconiiformes: Ardeidae)
Author(s): Carmem E. Fedrizzi et al
Abstract: The Western Reef-Heron Egretta gularis is a polyty..[more]..
Source: Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 15(3):481-483, 2007

download full text (pdf)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *