Egretta rufescens Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
Species of Special Concern
The reddish egret is the rarest heron species in North America. The Florida population is thought to number fewer than 500 pairs. It is a medium-sized egret with a blue-gray plumage and a reddish head and neck. The bill is pink with a black tip. There are two color phases: the dark phase is more common, while the white phase occurs mainly in the lower Keys.
Reddish egrets are closely tied to salt water and are found mainly in shallow bays, mangrove, salt marshes and coastal tidal flats in the southern half of Florida. These egrets feed on small fish and are well known for their distinctively frenetic hunting style. They run rapidly through shallow waters in pursuit of their prey, frequently jumping, lurching and changing directions. They will also stand and spread their wings above the water like an umbrella, presumably so they can see small fish more easily.
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