• • •Reddish Egrets have a long, slender neck and a shaggy, rufous plume around the head and neck. Adults have a distinctive pink bill tipped in black. Although Little Blue Herons are somewhat similar in profile and color, their blue plumage is more vivid and they are smaller.
On the Gulf Coast, a completely white version of the Reddish Egret accounts for about 10 percent of the total population.
Look for Reddish Egrets at dawn and dusk along the beachfront, in tidal flats and brackish and saltwater marshes. They are whirling dervishes when feeding – stepping briskly through the water, staring intently and jumping and spinning around as they track small fish. They spread their wings wide to reduce the glare off the water and maintain their balance. And the elaborate dance may be, in part, to stir up potential meals of frogs, small fish and crustaceans.
Reddish Egrets mate from March through late July, shaking and tossing their heads in courtship. They nest in colonies on coastal islands. Their nests, which nurture three to five pale, blue-green eggs, are built with sticks and twigs on the ground, in shrubs or on oyster shell beaches. Most of the estimated 2,000 nesting pairs of Reddish Egrets are in Texas.
May 15, 2012
A Reddish Egret stood in the shallow surf a ways up the beach on Bolivar Flats. It stared intently at the water, its head moving back and forth, tracing the path of small fish below. Then it jumped, spun around and stepped briskly through the water as if it was standing on hot coals. It was alternately graceful and spastic. All the while, it never took its eyes off the rushing water. Every once in a while it stabbed sharply with its bill. It took at least three attempts before it came up with a small fish.