TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Tricolored Heron adult has a long neck, bill and legs. Top parts are dark grey with a tinge of purple-blue during breeding season. Head has a few fine white crest feathers. Belly is white. There is a yellow skin patch between bill base and eye. Front neck has a mottled whitish stripe. Pointed bill is dark grey on top, yellowish under, with a black tip. Eyes are reddish. Legs and feet are yellow. Juvenile has a reddish brown head and neck. Bird length is about 75 cm (30 inches).
NAME: ‘Heron’ has a complicated origin and evolved from an ancient Greek word meaning ‘to creak or screech’ (in reference to that bird’s call). ‘Tricolored’ (also Latin species name) refers to this heron’s plumage. Latin genus name ‘Egretta’ comes from French ‘aigrette’, referring to this bird’s feathers that were used as ornaments. Also previously known as ‘Louisiana Heron’.
HABITAT: Coastal swamps (bayous), mudflats, lagoons.
DIET: Fish, insects, crustaceans, reptiles.
NESTING: Nests in colonies in trees. Nest is a platform of sticks lined with finer materials. About three to four light blue-green eggs are laid, incubated by both parents, who also both feed the chicks.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeding range covers coastal upper Atlantic US states. Year-round resident along coasts of southeast USA, around Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, both coasts of Central America, and northern South America. Winter resident along coasts of Baja California.
Distribution Map:
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings listed as ‘accidental’ so far. See note below on bird vagrancy. First sighting was reported in May 2015 at Covehead Marsh, PEI National Park.
CONSERVATION: Population appears stable overall, currently not at risk.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Little Blue Heron, Great Blue Heron
REFERENCES: (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency) (New Hampshire PBS) (New York Natural Heritage Program) (University of Michigan) (Texas Breeding Bird Atlas) (Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USGS)

Tricolored Heron – Amelia Island Greenway, FL – Apr. 8, 2018 – photo by Roberta Palmer
Tricolored heron, Roberta Palmer
Tricolored Heron in flight – Amelia Island Greenway, FL – Apr. 8, 2018 – photo by Roberta Palmer
Tricolored heron taking off, FL, by
Roberta Palmer
Tricolored Heron in flight, view from under – Amelia Island, FL – Apr. 8, 2018 – photo by Roberta Palmer
Tricolored heron in flight, FL, by
Roberta Palmer
Tricolored Heron, breeding plumage – Central Florida – Mar. 2018 – photo by HblairH
Tricolored heron, breeding
plumage, by HblairH