Tricolored Heron

Egretta tricolor
Tricolored Heron specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (26 inches) wader, the Tricolored Heron is most easily identified by its contrasting white belly and slate-gray body. Other field marks include a rusty-brown neck, white rump, and long dark bill. Male and female Tricolored Herons are similar to one another in all seasons. The Tricolored Heron breeds along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States from Texas to southern Maine, and breeds further inland in Florida. In winter, this species withdraws from the northern part of its range, and may be found in the southern part of its east coast range, along the coast of Southern California, and inland in Mexico and Central America. Non-migratory populations also exist along the coast of Central and South America. Tricolored Herons breed in a number of wetland habitat types, including freshwater and saltwater marshes, coastal lagoons, and estuaries. This species may also be found in Mangrove wetlands in parts of its range where this habitat occurs, particularly in winter. Tricolored Herons mainly eat fish, but may also take crustaceans and small vertebrates (such as frogs, lizards, and mice) when the opportunity arises. Tricolored Herons may be best observed wading in shallow water, where they may be seen plunging their bills into the water to catch fish. It is also possible to see Tricolored Herons returning to trees to roost at sunset, or while flying with their feet extended and their necks pulled in. Tricolored Herons are primarily active during the day.

DC Information

Uncommon visitor from the south. Individuals are usually seen from mid-July to mid-September, only near Chincoteague. Sexes are similar.

Specimen Information

This is the information for the bird on the left.
Date: 2/22/1896
Collected By: R Ridgway
Locality: Ft Bassinger, Fla
Sex: Male
Catalog ID: 175944
The information below is for the bird on the right.
Date: August 25, 1932
Collected By: Wm H Ball & Clarence Cottam
Locality: Hunting Creek, Alexandria, Virginia
Sex: Female
Catalog ID: 332227

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species