The Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) is a medium-sized heron that is native to the Americas. Adults can grow up to 30-36 inches in length, with a wingspan of 46-50 inches. They typically weigh between 1.5 and 2.2 pounds, making them one of the larger species of herons. They have a long, slender bill, and their plumage is a mix of gray and reddish-brown, with a distinctive shaggy appearance on their neck and chest. Juvenile birds have a brown and white mottled appearance.
One of the most distinguishing field marks of the Reddish Egret is its hunting behavior. Unlike most herons, which stand still and wait for prey to come to them, Reddish Egrets are active hunters that stalk their prey through shallow water, often using their wings to create shade to reduce glare on the water. They also have a unique foraging technique where they use their wings to create a canopy over the water, which helps to attract fish by reducing the amount of sunlight in the water.
Reddish Egrets are primarily non-migratory and are found year-round in coastal areas of the southern United States, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. However, some populations in the Gulf of Mexico and Florida may make short-distance seasonal movements in response to changes in food availability or weather patterns.
While the Reddish Egret is not currently considered to be globally threatened, populations have declined in some areas due to habitat loss and human disturbance. Conservation efforts have focused on protecting important nesting and foraging areas, as well as reducing disturbance from human activities such as boating and recreational fishing. The species is also protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States, which makes it illegal to harm or kill them without a permit.