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