Be Your Own Birder

Discover the Tricolored Heron

Wading birds range in color from all-white to subtly camouflaged, but few are as colorful as the aptly named tricolored heron. There’s more to this bird than just its triple threat of color, however, and they are fascinating birds to see!

Tricolored Heron - Photo by Dan Pancamo
Tricolored Heron – Photo by Dan Pancamo

Tricolored Heron Fun Facts

  • While the tricolored heron (Egratta tricolor) is now named for its colorful plumage, this bird has also been called the Louisiana heron for its southeastern range (though it lives in appropriate habitats well outside of just Louisiana).
  • These wading birds are colonial nesters and often share nesting rookeries with other heron species, such as great egrets, snowy egrets, and night-herons.
  • Like many wading birds, tricolored herons have a varied diet and will eat whatever they can catch with their sharp, dagger-like bills – mostly fish, but also amphibians, crustaceans, insects, snakes, spiders, lizards, salamanders, snails, and more.
  • During the breeding season, the tricolored heron becomes even more colorful with bright white plumes from the back of its head, buffy plumes from its back, and a bright blue tint at the base of the bill.
  • Tricolored herons are more active hunters than many other egrets, and while they will occasionally stay still before striking, they are also likely to stalk and chase fish through shallow water.
  • Male and female tricolored herons look similar, though males are slightly larger. During the breeding season, males will have slightly more intense color, but both genders show their characteristic breeding colors.
Tricolored Heron - Photo by Judy Gallagher
Tricolored Heron – Photo by Judy Gallagher

Adding the Tricolored Heron to Your Life List

While the tricolored heron has a broad range extending from California and Mexico along the southern and southeastern coast and even as far north as New York and New Jersey, it is primarily a coastal bird found in swamps, marshes, estuaries, tidal pools, and wetlands. These birds are also found throughout appropriate habitats in the Caribbean as well as in Central and South America as far as Venezuela, Peru, and northern Brazil. Visiting appropriate habitats with vegetated edges and shallow rims is essential to find these wading birds, and the aquatic habitats should be healthy to support a good variety of prey. These are relatively solitary birds, however, particularly while feeding, but they may be seen in close proximity with other herons and egrets. In Florida they are more easily found throughout the state, often even noted in drainage ditches and canals.

Learn More About the Tricolored Heron

There’s always more to learn about every bird, and you can start learning more about the tricolored heron with these reliable resources…

Tricolored Heron - Photo by John Spade
Tricolored Heron – Photo by John Spade

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