Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis)

Western Reef Heron

Ciconiiformes Ardeidae Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis)

[order] Ciconiiformes | [family] Ardeidae | [latin] Egretta gularis | [UK] Western Reef Heron | [FR] Aigrette à gorge blanche | [DE] Küstenreiher | [ES] Garceta Dimorfa | [IT] Airone schistaceo | [NL] Westelijke Rifreiger

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


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

No sound impression of Western Reef Heron


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

Foraging 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.

Breeding habits

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.


This species has a large global range; the total size has not yet been quantified, but the Extent of Occurrence in Africa alone is estimated to be 1,100,000 km2. The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population size criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. less than 10,000 mature individuals in conjunction with appropriate decline rates and subpopulation qualifiers). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. (source Birdlife.org)


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 breeding season

Western Reef Heron range map summer


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 *