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Tricolored Heron
Egretta tricolor

 Pelecaniformes Order - Ardeidae Family

Length: 63-68 cm; Wingspan: 95-105 cm; Weight: M: 415gr; F: 335gr
LONGIVITY:  up to 17 years

Tricolored Heron is a medium-sized heron, with long and very slender neck and bill, and relatively short legs. Legs are yellow in winter, and pink in the breeding season. It has a long and pointed bill that is yellow in winter, with a black tip. But the yellow turns to blue in the breeding season.

Tricolored Heron has a combination of white belly and white stripe down centre of foreneck, contrasting with dark remainder of plumage. In flight, it shows white underwing coverts. 
Adult winter lacks white hind crown feathers, and has shorter scapular plumes.

Juvenile differs in rufous sides to head, rufous neck (with white strike down foreneck, and lesser upperwings, and pale brown scapular feathers. 


Tricolored Heron is usually silent away from breeding colonies. But it gives a harsh, nasal croak when flushed. Common call is a loud and sharp “kyowk”.

Tricolored Heron lives in shallow marshes and shores, mudflats, mangroves, swamps and bays, with woodland cover, because it often perches in trees.

Tricolored Heron is found in eastern and southern North America (coasts of Maine, through Texas, and coasts of Mexico), and Central America, in coastal areas. It also can be seen in the West Indies and the coastal South America to the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil on Atlantic coast, and to northern Peru on the Pacific coast.   

Tricolored Herons are migratory birds. It’s usually solitary. It’s very defensive about its hunting area, and it charges at other invading, Tricoloured Heron and other wading species.
To feed, it usually stands in shallow water, to find and catch prey. The most frequent form of prey catching behaviour is walking quickly, running with open wings and tactile sequence. Its behaviour is varied, depending on the habitat, but almost all the food is found in shallow water. Also runs rapidly through shallows, wings partly raised, with sometimes one foot far forward and vibrates foot rapidly along bottom to flush prey.
Tricolored Heron prefers to change its foraging and feeding strategies, in order to continue to eat its preferred preys.

The pair builds its nest when the water has receded. Low water levels help to concentrate prey in a small area, making it simpler for parent’s birds to feed nestlings. Parents do not have to go far.   

In flight, tricoloured heron holds its neck at a curve, similar to an “S”.

The nest territory is selected by the Tricolored Heron male. The nest is a platform of sticks and twigs, with a shallow central depression, lined with leaves and grasses. It’s placed in a tree or on a bed of reeds. Male and female build the nest. They only raise one brood per year. 
Female lays 3 to 4 bluish coloured eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs. The chicks hatch in about three weeks, several days apart from one another. Both adults care for the chicks and feed them regurgitated food.
The chicks fledge when they are 35 days old, and they go off on their own.

90% of the diet of the Tricolored Heron is composed of fish, but it also feeds on amphibians, crustaceans, gastropods, leeches, worms, spiders and insects.


Nest success can be greatly compromised by cold weather, predation, and water levels that have not receded.  
Raccoons, crows and ravens eat eggs and nestlings. Owls feed on adult as well as young.
Populations of Tricolored Heron seem to have remained stable or increased in all of their habitats in the United States, except for Texas and southern Florida. Tricolored Heron has relatively large populations in North America, compared to other heron species. 

Fr: Aigrette tricolore
All : Dreifarbenreiher
Esp : Garceta Tricolor
Ital: Airone della Luisiana
Nd: Witbuikreiger
Russe: Цапля трехцветная
Sd: Trefärgad häger

Photographs d’Alfredo Colón
Puerto Rico Wildlife

Text by Nicole Bouglouan

Sources :

HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 1 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334105

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

All About Birds (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Wikipedia (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)

What Bird-The ultimate Bird Guide (Mitchell Waite)

Animal Diversity Web (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology)


El Zoológico Electrónico (Damisela)


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