Tricolored heron

The Tricolored Heron is a species of heron belonging to the genus “Egretta”. It is found mostly in the northern and central parts of America. In North America, it was formerly known as the Louisiana Heron.

Scientific Classification

Egretta tricolor

Table Of Content

Scientific Classification

Egretta tricolor


The Tricolored heron is a beautiful bird. Given below is a detailed description of this bird:

Size: It has a length of almost 22 inches.

Weight: Their body weight is about 350 grams.

Neck: Like most herons, the Tricolored Heron has a long neck.

Bill: The long and pointed bill is comprised of a black tip which turns blue during the breeding season.

Wings: The heron has a wingspan of almost 38 inches.

Color: It has blue-gray feathers on its head, back and upper wings. The color on the chest and the belly is white and the neck is rusty with a white stripe. The bill is yellow in color.

Legs: The Tricolored Heron has long legs which are yellow or dark colored.

Sexual dimorphism: The males and females are similar in appearance.

Tricolored heron Picture

Picture 1 – Tricolored heron
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Read below to find out about the behavioral traits of these birds:

  • Compared to some other heron species, they are much less social during flocking, foraging and nesting.
  • Most of them can be found wandering solitarily.
  • The males may compete among each other for mates. After bonding, males guard the females and their territory jealously.
  • They mostly live in colonies and the males often get involved in territorial fights.
  • They walk with alternating steps of varying speed.
  • These birds often like to wade deep in water while searching for food. During these times, only their bodies are visible from outside.


These birds are often heard to emit nasal croaks and squawks. A sharp, load “kyowk” is heard when they feel flushed.


During flight, the neck of a tricolored heron bends to form an S-like curve. They mostly glide with an average speed over a medium elevation.


These birds like to tread along deep or shallow water while searching for its prey. Their diet mainly consists of crustaceans, insects, fishes, gastropods, reptiles and amphibians.

Range and Distribution

The Tricolored Heron breeds mostly in parts of Mexico and on the Gulf Coast of USA. They are also found on the Atlantic Coast from New Jersey to Florida. After breeding, they generally move north of their nesting locality. During the winter season, they migrate to the south towards Central and South America, Peru, Brazil and the Caribbean Islands.


These birds are mostly found in marshy areas, mudflats, tidal creeks, lagoons, swamps, ditches, bayous and coastal ponds. Tricolored herons mostly choose sub-tropical swamps as their breeding habitats.

Pictures of Tricolored heron
Picture 2 – Tricolored heron Picture
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Predators like American crows, fish crows, boat-tailed grackles, red-winged blackbirds and purple gallinules usually tend to eat and destroy the heron eggs. Turkey vultures, feral cats and raccoons also prey on the eggs and young birds.


These birds have adapted themselves in ways that help them to evade predators. Some of their adaptations are discussed below:

  • These birds have long legs which help them to run fast and save themselves from their predators.
  • They are also able to fly at a decent speed that provides them safety from preying species.
  • While they are in water, they can often camouflage themselves by hiding their necks underwater and keeping only a small part of their body outside for others to view, giving an impression of a stone or rock.


Tricolored herons are monogamous; they have a strong bond between the pairs. The males may fight among each other during the breeding season for the females. The females often try to enter the nests while the males are involved in a circle flight. They may also join their preferred male in fights against other males.

Tricolored herons build their nests on platforms made with stems and twigs. They may also line their nests with grasses. The nests are mostly built in coastal islands or swamp forests.

Preening, erecting feathers and twig shaking are common courtship activities. Another notable courtship ritual is Bill-Nibbling, where the male and female birds open and close their bills close to each other and create a smooth rattling sound. Copulation occurs on or near the nest. The female welcomes the male by withdrawing her neck and squatting forward. While mounting the female’s back, the male bird uses its toes to grasp. Copulation may last for 8 to 10 hours.

The females lay 3 to 7 eggs per clutch. The eggs are light blue-green in color. Both the male and female birds incubate the eggs for almost 3 weeks. Hatching occurs over many days. The young birds are fed regurgitated food by their parents. Both parents take care of the eggs and the hatchlings.


The expected lifespan for this species is around 17 years.

Conservation Status

The Tricolored Herons are listed in the category of “Least Concern” by the IUCN.

Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting facts about these birds:

  • A flock of herons is known by many names, such as “rookery”, “scattering”, “hedge”, “pose” or a “battery”.
  • When they sense danger in their vicinity, Tricolored Herons camouflage themselves by standing straight with their bills pointed up towards the sky.
  • Tricolored Herons are the only dark-colored herons that have a white belly.
  • The bill changes its color during the breeding season.


Here are some images of these beautiful birds.

Images of Tricolored heron
Picture 3 – Tricolored heron Image
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Tricolored heron Photo

Picture 4 – Tricolored heron Photo
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One response to “Tricolored heron”

  1. vera arrington says:

    I live in Baltimore Maryland, I’ve seen this bird down at a landfield where the city dumps trash. There a creep near the dump where this bird’s sits for a long period of time, I finally got to know what type of bird this is, also I never see more than one at a time, it really amazed me to look at this bird sitting an not moving for a long time. I finally seen it walking inthe water one day. I want to know why is it only one at all time, I’ve never seen two birds at time, I’ve never seen it fly off either. I see it from a distance. Is this bird flying here from 30 mile or more.

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