Length: 30 in. Wing Span: 46 in.
The least common of North America’s herons, the Reddish Egret occupies much of the Gulf Coast. Reddish Egrets have a large number of displays that are used to communicate aggression to encroaching rivals or that function in courtship. Additional behaviors aid in foraging, such as extending wings out in front of its head to form a shade canopy that attracts fish.
Most Reddish Egrets do not breed until their fourth year. They are territorial at their nest site, though they sometime nest in colonies with other herons. They tend to be solitary foragers and maintain space between individuals.
(Adult dark and light morph Reddish Egrets. Photos © Greg Lavaty)
Here is Reddish Egret, shot at the Space Coast Festival just before the winds reached gale force. This video and others on the Internet Bird Collection showed something interesting. Reddish Egrets almost always direct their thrusts straight down, or close to it. Much more than other herons. I think it sheds some light on why they run around like they do. No need to be subtle if you can stand over your quarry before they can get out of the way.
Description of the Reddish Egret
The Reddish Egret has a pinkish bill with a black tip. There is an all white form, as well as a bluish-gray form with a rufous head and neck. Both have shaggy plumes on the head and neck.
The sexes are similar.
Seasonal change in appearance
Plumes are less developed in winter.
Fall and winter birds have a dark bill, lacking the pink at the base of the bill in both color phases.
Dark morph Juveniles are grayish-brown.
Coastal flats and salt marshes.
Forages actively by running and leaping, or by waiting patiently.
Resident in coastal areas of the southeastern U.S., Mexico, and Central America.
The dark form of the Reddish Egret is most common in the U.S.
The crest feathers of the Reddish Egret are often raised in communicative interactions with other Reddish Egrets.
Egrets are often seen as symbols of grace and purity – especially the birds with white plumage.
A throaty wail is sometimes given.
Little Blue Heron
Adult Little Blue Heron is smaller, has purplish hue on head instead of red.
Juvenile Little Blue Heron is white, has thinner bill than the white morph of the Reddish Egret.
Related: Egret vs Heron
Great Egret is similar to white morph of the Reddish Egret, but has a yellow to orange bill.
The nest is a platform of sticks placed on the ground or in trees.
Eggs: 3 to 4.
Incubation and fledging:
– Young hatch at 25-26 days.
– Young fledge (leave the nest) in 28-40 days after hatching but remain with the adults for some time.
Bent Life History of the Reddish Egret
Published by the Smithsonian Institution between the 1920s and the 1950s, the Bent life history series of monographs provide an often colorful description of the birds of North America. Arthur Cleveland Bent was the lead author for the series. The Bent series is a great resource and often includes quotes from early American Ornithologists, including Audubon, Townsend, Wilson, Sutton and many others.
Bent Life History for the Reddish Egret – the common name and sub-species reflect the nomenclature in use at the time the description was written.
DICHROMANASSA RUFESCENS (Gmelin)
Although once abundant on the coast and islands of southwestern Florida, this interesting species had practically gone from that region before the time of my first visit in 1903, for we saw only a few scattering individuals in the Florida Keys and near Cape Sable. W. E. D. Scott (1887) has given us some idea of the former abundance of this species in Florida. Speaking of a locality in Old Tampa Bay he says:
Formerly I had seen birds breeding here in great numbers, and reddish egrets had been the most conspicuous feature of these breeding grounds in those days. But now how different! Not a single pair of birds of any kind did I find nesting, and only at rare intervals were any kind of herons to be observed. Not a reddish egret and only a few frightened and wary Louisiana herons were seen, and these were not breeding.
It was the same story with many other localities; and to-day I doubt if the reddish egret breeds anywhere in Florida.
To see the reddish egret at its best we must visit the coast of Texas, where it is really abundant from Matagorda Bay to Cameron County, reaching its maximum abundance on Green Island in Laguna Madre. The coast of Texas with its long string of bays and shallow inland waters, dotted with many low marshy islands, is well suited to the habits of this maritime species, which seldom strays far away from salt water. Here the reddish egret nests abundantly in the low vegetation on many of the islands and feeds in the shallow muddy waters in which small fishes are abundant.
Cou~tship: The reddish egret in its nuptial display, in which it frequently indulges all through the breeding season to express its emotions, fairly bristles with plumes. The brownish pink plumes of the head, neck, and breast and the bluish gray plumes of the back stand out like the quills of a porcupine giving the bird quite a formidable appearance, terrifying to its enemies, perhaps, but probably pleasing to its mate. The males vie with each other in this spectacular display, the particolored bills pointed upward and the necks held in graceful curves, as they strut and bow before the lady of their choice.
Audubon (1840) describes the courtship as follows:
About the beginning of April, these herons begin to pair. The males chase each other on the ground, as well as in the air, and on returning to their chosen females erect their crest and plumes, swell out their necks, pass and repass before them, and emit hollow rough sounds, which it is impossible for me to describe. It is curious to see a party of 20 or 30 on a sand bar, presenting as they do a mixture of colors from pure white to the full hues of the old birds of either sex; and still more curious perhaps it is to see a purple male paying his addresses to a white female, while at hand a white male is caressing a purple female, and not far off are a pair of white, and another of purple birds.
He also refers to a display in ifight:
The flight of this heron is more elevated and regular than that of the smaller species. During the love season, it is peculiarly graceful and elegant, especially when one unmated male is pursuing another, a female being in sight. They pass through the air with celerity, turn and cut about in curious curves and zigzags, the stronger bird frequently erecting its beautiful crest, and uttering its note, at the moment when it expects to give its rival a thrust. When these aerial combats take place between old and immature birds, their different colors form a striking contrasl~, extremely pleasing to the beholder.
Nestinq: On our trip down the coast of Texas in 1923 we found a few reddish egrets nesting in the mixed rookeries around Karankawa and La Vaca Bays near the lower end of Matagorda Bay. Near the entrance to Karankawa Bay we found, on May 9, a small but densely populated colony on a little motte of small trees and thorny bushes on a marsh; this contained perhaps 50 nests of Ward herons, reddish egrets, and Louisiana herons; the nests were on the tops of the thickly matted bushes and in the small trees; the bushes were also full of nests great-tailed grackles, some of which were also placed in the bases of the Ward herons’ nests. The next day we ran up to the head of the bay to visit the great Wolf Point rookery, where we found a few reddish egrets breeding with thousands of Louisiana herons and lesser numbers of snowy egrets, Ward and black-crowned night herons. A very few reddish egrets were also seen in a large mixed rookery of the same species on Rose’s Point, in La Vaca Bay, on May 12; this was in a dense and extensive forest of mesquite and huisache and the nests were mostly 10 or 15 feet from the ground. Both of these rookeries were also overrun with great-tailed grackles, which must destroy large numbers of eggs.
But when we reached the chain of islands between Mesquite and San Antonio Bays, on May 16, we really began to see reddish egrets in abundance. At least three of these islands were densely populated with large breeding colonies of herons; reddish egrets and Louisian herons were the most abundant; Ward herons were common; there were a few black-crowned night herons; and on one island there was a little group of half a dozen nests of American egrets and numerous snowy egrets were scattered among the other species. As if to add color to the scene, a large flock of roseate spoonbills, with a few cormorants as companions, frequented the islands, flying from one island to another and refusing to leave the chain. These islands were all small, low, shell reefs, inclosing flat marshy areas and surrounded by shallow muddy water; the drier portions supported a growth of low willows, huisache and other thorny bushes, sunflowers, prickly pear cactus, and a few Spanish daggers; the marshy portions, which were partially covered with water, were thickly overgrown with low bushes, grasses and rank herbage. Most of the reddish egrets nests were in the low bushes or on the thick growth of rank herbage, many of them in the wet places, with water under them; many nests were on the ground in the grass or herbage and some were in the clumps of sunflowers. They were usually between 2 and 3 feet above the ground or water and were often so close together that it was difficult to find room to set up a blind among them. The nests were well made of sticks and twigs, and were smoothly lined with finer twigs, rootlets, straws, and grasses. Nearly all of the nests contained the usual three eggs, but in a few nests we found newly hatched young.
Big Bird Island in Laguna Madre, with its wonderful colonies of skimmers, terns, gulls, pelicans, and herons, has been well written up and illustrated, for it contains one of the most interesting collections of breeding birds in North America. The pelican colony, mostly brown pelicans but sometimes a few of the big white pelicans, is located in the central and highest part of the island where the ground is hard and dry. In and around the pelican colony is an extensive growth of prickly pear cactus in more or less dense thickets, mixed with a few stunted mesquites and sunflowers. Here we found quite a large colony of reddish egrets and a few Ward herons with nests in the prickly pears, on the ground or 2 or 3 feet above it. At the time of our visit, May 29, most of the egrets’ nests still contained eggs, but some held small young.
The largest colony of reddish egrets in Texas, probably the largest in North America, is on Green Island which lies 30 miles north of Point Isabel in Lagima Madre. I could not spare the time to visit this Island but Capt. R. D. Camp told me considerable about it and it has been well written up by others. Perhaps the best description of the island and its inhabitants is by Alvin R. Cahn (1923) who writes:
On the morning in question our investigations were confined to the outskirts of the vegetation, with excursions along the two paths which Mr. Camp had cut through the brush. It was this time that I learned the exact nature of the island to which I had come. I had been warned that the vegetation was thick, that there were cacti and “other things” with prickers; that I ought to wear leather trousers, leather gloves, and a leather coat: which would have been utterly impossible because of the heat. I was prepared, therefore, to find a tangled growth on the island, but down in the bottom of my heart I had doubted whether the brush could be as bad as reported. I had not been on the island five minutes, however, before I realized that the great problem in photographing the birds would be to get near them, for this mass of brush in which the birds nest is nothing but a huge pincushion armed with a million needle points, projecting in every direction, at every angle; and at every height. The bushes, some 8 or 10 feet high, are mostly a vicious species of Condahe, exceedingly branched and covered with short, very stiff, very sharp thorns that tear the skin painfully and cling to the clothing in a most annoying fashion. Amomg the Condalia, are scattered luxurant examples of the famous Yucca, or Spanish dagger, which grows about breast high, appearing as a great sheath of long, firm daggerlike leaves tipped with a thorny substance sharper than a Victrola needle. It was one of these villainous thorns that gently pierced my knee cap and made me a very stiff, sick, and unhappy mortal for three days. Beneath the Yucca, lies a substratum of Opuntia, the prickly-pear cactus, running vinelike over the ground, bristling like an angry porcupine, and, porcupinelike, ready to shed hundreds of needles into anything that comes in contact with it. Under the cactus I believe was the ground, though I do not recall ever having seen it.
As far as the eye could reach the bush tops were alive with graceful forms. Reddish egrets and Louisiana herons were everywhere, the marvelous grace of their ever-changing postures exciting constant wonderment. In a far corner a few pair of black-crowned night herons had their nests hidden in a particularly dense thicket, and appeared for amoment only as they hurriedly escaped at our least approach, ward herons sprang from their nests with a great squawk as we advanced, and disappeared on heavy wings over our limited horizon. Here and there in the heart of the tangle we could get a glimpse of a secretive form of wondrous white as some snowy egret or reddish egret in the immaculate plumage of the white phase slipped silently from a hidden nest. Through the underbrush we could see also the black sleek forms of the grackles as they slipped silently from nest to nest, making the most of the absence of incubating egrets and herons to ply their nefarious trade of egg eating. Frequently, too, one of these large blackbirds would come to the top of some conspicuous, perch and there, with much ado, inflate and deflate himself, producing thereby not only a grotesque appearance but also a most peculiar song. From a nearby shrub a gray-tailed cardinal burst into a song of great richness, as if to ridicule the pathetic attempt of the grackle at vocal gymnastics. Everywhere there was life, and everywhere there was beauty and grace and a symphony of sound and color.
J. IR. Pemberton (1922), who visited the island with Captain Camp, estimated that the heron population of the island consisted of about 4,000 reddish egrets, 2,000 Louisiana herons, 100 black-crowned night herons and 50 Ward herons. Captain Camp told me that in 1923 the total population had increased at least 20 per cent over the previous year. Mr. Pemberton (1922) said that “every individual bush appeared to have nests on it or in it,” but that “nearly all the nests” of the reddish egrets “were on the top of the bisbirinda or the Spanish dagger. The mesquites had very few, although some of the stunted and more robust carried nests.” In watching the egrets building their nests, he noticed that “the greater part of the material consisted of dry salt grass stems, which was placed as lining in old nests, but once in a while a bird carried a dead thorny twig found beneath a mesquite.” Captain Camp told me that during the season of 1923 there had been a great increase in the number of nests built on the ground, where a more elaborate type of nest is built of dry grass, with a deeper cavity than in the tree nests. Perhaps the island is becoming overcrowded and building material is harder to find. Evidently the colony is flourishing under the able guardianship of Captain Camp and his assistant who lives on the island.
There are four sets of eggs of this species in the California Academy of Sciences collected on May 2, 1921, on islands in the Gulf of California. Three of the nests were on the ground under Salicornia bushes and one was on the lower branches of one of these bushes 16 inches above the ground. The nests were quite bulky and were well made of dry sticks and twigs of this plant; they measured from 20 to 26 inches in diameter outside, from 10 to 12 inches inside, from 8 to 10 inches in height and were hollowed to a depth of 3 or 4 inches.
Eggs: The reddish egret usually lays from three to four eggs, occasionally five and very rarely six or even seven. The shape varies from ovate or oval to elliptical ovate or ellipJ~ical oval. The shell is smooth and not glossy. The color is pale bluish green, varying from ”deep lichen green~~ to ”pale Niagara green~~ or ”pale olivine.
The measurements of 42 eggs average 51 by 37.6 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 5~.6 by 38.2, 53.5 by 41.7, 48.~ by 36 millimeters.
Young: Both sexes incubate. The period of incubation does not seem to be known, but it is probably between three and four weeks. Audubon (1840) says of the young:
Being abundantly and carefully fed, at first by regurgitation, they grow fast, and soon become noisy. When about a month old, they are fed less frequently, and the fish is merely dropped before them, or into their open throats; soon after they sit upright on the nest, with their legs extended foward, or crawl about on the branches, as all other herons are wont to do. They are now sensible of danger, rand when a boat is heard coming toward them they hide among the branches, making toward the interior of the keys, where it is extremely difficult to follow them. On one occasion, when I was desirous of procuring some of them alive, to take to Charleston, it took more than an hour to catch eight or nine of them, for they moved so fast and stealthily through the mangroves, always making for the closest and most tangled parts, that a man was obliged to keep his eyes constantly on a single individual, which it was very difficult to do, on account of the number of birds crossing each other in every direction. They do not fly until they are 6 or 7 weeks old, and even then do not venture beyond the island on which they have been reared.
Mr. Cahn (1923) writes:
The life of the young birds is anything but exciting. Day after day they lie on their shallow platform of sticks under the sweltering rays of a June sun, and the monotony of their lives is broken only by the coming and going of the old birds and, as the nestlings grow older, by innocent sparring matches among themselves. Long before they are able to fly, they leave the nest at the approach of danger and, using beak and wings and legs, climb unsteadily about in the brush, returning to the nest when the excitement is over. Before they are able to climb out of the nest, the babies make a valiant defense against an intruder by hissing and jabbing vigorously with their bills. They are so unsteady, however, that they very seldom hit what they are aiming at. They are a comical sight sitting on their heels, their great feet sprawling before them as they vainly endeavor to keep their balance during the violent exercise of defense. Once they become used to climbing about in bushes, they are safe, as then it is nearly impossible to capture them; they can go through the tangle much faster than you can.
The chief source of mortality among the young egrets and herons seems to be falling out of the nest, and a young bird is permitted to die of starvation or to be consumed by the red ants or a stray coyote that may reach the island during low water, right under the nest, without the old birds showing any sign or comprehending what is going on.
Plumages: The downy young reddish egret has two distinct color phases, pure white and colored. In the colored phase, which is far commoner, the forehead, crown, and occiput are covered with long, hairlike plumes, an inch long, “light cinnamon drab “in color; the sides of the head and neck are scantily, and the back is more thickly, clothed with long,soft down of a “light mouse gray” or “drab: gray” color, the under parts arc covered more scantily with down of the same color; and the throat is naked. The bill, feet, and naked skin are dark olive, darkest on the legs and feet.
The juvenal plumage appears first on the back, flanks, neck, and head, in about that order; then the flight feathers burst their sheaths, when the bird is from one-third to one-half grown; downy filaments still persist on the crown and the last of the down does not entirely disappear from the hind neck and rump until the bird is nearly grown. The fresh j uvenal plumage, when it first appears, is brightly colored, “chestnut” or “auburn” on the head and neck, paler “auburn” on the under parts and grayish brown above; the browns fade out to paler colors later on. The first winter plumage, which is mainly a continuation of the juvenal, is chiefly gray, from “Quaker drab” to “light mouse gray” or paler, darkest on the wings and tail and lightest on the under parts; but it is everywhere more or less suffused with rufous shades,” fawn color,” “vinaceous cinnamon” or “vinaceous tawny,” brightest and almost solid “vinaceous tawny” on the throat and lesser wing coverts; the feathers of the crown, neck, and under parts are broadly tipped or streaked with dull ”wood brown”; the back is largely dull ”wood brown”; all the wing coverts have rufous edgings; and the bill is all black.
The above plumage is worn throughout the winter without much change, except that the rufous tints largely disappear by wear and fading. A first prenuptial molt takes place from March to May; involving mainly the head and neck and some of the body plumage, but not the wings and tail. The head and breast plumes are partially acquired at this molt, the new feathers being “vrnaceous russet”, “pecan brown,” and “cameo brown.” The juvenal wing coverts are all retained and are more or less edged with dull buff.
At the next molt, the first postnuptial, a complete change of plumage produces, some time in the fall, a second winter plumage which is much like the adult; all light edgings disappear; the crown and mantle become plain “Quaker drab” and the under parts plain “light mouse gray”; but the plumes of the head, back and breast are only partially developed. The following spring the young bird, when nearly 2 years old, becomes indistinguishable from the adult.
Adults have a complete postnuptial molt in late summer or fall and a partial prenuptial molt, involving mainly the display plumage, during the late winter. The winter plumage is much like the wellknown nuptial plumage, except that the plumes are not so long and the plumage is darker and more richly colored, deep rich, chocolate brown on the head and neck, suffused with a purplish gloss.
It now seems to be generally conceded that the so-called Peale’s egret is a white phase of the reddish egret, although the status of these white birds was a puzzling problem to some of the earlier writers. Peale’s egret was included as a hypothetical species in the first and second editions of our check list, but was dropped in the third edition. Audubon (1840) supposed that Peale’s egret was the immature plumage of the reddish egret.
Maynard (1896) still maintained, even in the latest edition of his book, that pealei was a good species; his theory was based on the fact that the two color phases seemed to be differently distributed; he found the white birds exceedingly common on the east coast of Florida, where he found only a single reddish specimen in two seasons; while on the west coast, he found the reddish egret very abundant below Tampa Bay, but did not see a single white bird. In the Florida Keys and in the Bahamas he found both phases, as well as many birds of mixed plumage.
W. E. D. Scott (1881, 1887, and 1888) was always a firm believer in the color phase theory; he found both phases on the west coast of Florida, though somewhat differently distributed, where they were abundant in the early eighties; he also found a number of birds in mixed plumages. His assistant Mr. Devereux, “found young in both plumages in the same nest where the parents were both blue birds.”
We found the white birds exceedingly scarce on the coast of Texas except on Green Island in the southern part of Laguna Madre. Here Capt. R. D. Camp has made a special study of the white phase problem for three years and he summarizes his findings, as follows:
I watched with a great deal of interest a pair of birds composed of a normal male and a white female, at least the white bird was the one which spent most of the time incubating. The three eggs laid in the nest were normal in every respect and produced three normal colored young. Out of the hundreds of pairs of reddish egrets breeding on the island, I have yet to find two white birds mated. Of about 15 nests which I have observed containing some white-phase young, never has there been a case where more than 75 per cent of the same clutch were white. In only one case where one of the parent birds was white have I seen a white young, and in this case three of the four were normal. In one instance a pair of normal birds produced three white and one normal young. In the majority of cases where there were white young in the nests, the number of white did not exceed one.
Although the irregular distribution of the white phase suggests the idea that it may be a distinct species; and although the mixed plumages suggest hybridism; the raising of white young, where both parents are reddish egrets, seems to clinch the color phase theory.
Although material for study is scarce in collections, white phase birds apparently pass through the same sequence of molts and plumages as the colored birds. They are pure white at all ages, but the full development of plumes and the parti-colored bill are not acquired until the second prenuptial molt, when the young bird is nearly 2 years old.
Food: Being a bird of the seacoast the reddish egret probably obtains most, if not all, of its food in salt water. Large numbers of these birds maybe seen at times standing in the shallow waters around their breeding grounds, or way off on the the mud banks or sand shoals in the lagoons, where they stand motionless watching for their prey or walk about slowly in search of it, until the rising tide forces them to leave. Mr. Cahn (1923), however, writes:
Just where the old birds went for food is a question. On a quiet evening hundreds of them would be seen standing in the shallow water that surrounds their island, but the birds remained almost motionless in the red glow of the setting sun, and there was little evidence that they caught their food so near home. On the contrary, with the approach of evening and the lessening of the intensity of the sun, the birds usually took wing and disappeared in small groups to the southwest, in which direction undoubtedly lay their feeding ground. The food consists of a small fish and frogs, tadpoles, and an occasional crustacean, which are probably caught in the marshes of the mainland coast. Before dark the birds were all back and at the nest, and there was relatively little night activity. With the daylight the birds would fly away once more to the feeding grounds, returning again before the heat of the sun was sufficiently intense to endanger their precious eggs or babies. Then followed another period of inactivity during which the birds remained close to the nest, preening their wonderful feathers or playing at repelling intruders.
Be?uwior: In flight the reddish egret is very light, graceful and easy, as well as strong and rather swift. In the white phase, with its long plumes, it somewhat resembles the American egret, but it appears shorter and stouter and its wing strokes are not so long and slow. Its particolored bill is a good field mark, as it is conspicuous at quite a distance. On the ground it walks with deliberate grace and elegance. It is an adept on balancing itself on the insecure perches it finds on the slender tops of the bushes, where it nests. It is interesting to watch it swaying in the strong breeze, which generally prevails on the Texas coast, maintaining its balance by slight adjustments of its supple frame; only occasionally are its broad wings brought into play.
A curious habit is referred to by Mr. Cahn (1923) as follows:
They will stand at the very edge of the nest sometimes by the hour, simply for the purpose of warding off the supposed attacks of neighboring egrets that are likewise amusing themselves by repelling imagined intrusions. Bristling, with every feather erect, they jab viciously at the object of their attack, or simply endeavor, by a full display of plumage, to overawe the innocent offender. Thus they pass the time defending their nests against entirely theoretical attacks of their neighbors, whose one idea often is simply to slip back to their eggs as unobtrusively as possible.
I have never heard any notes from this species but the usual gut-. tural croaks, but T. Gilbert Pearson (1922) refers to another, of which he says:
One very characteristic note of the reddish egret, which I noticed, both at the rookeries and on the feeding grounds, is a bugle like cry decidedly more musical in its nature than the ordinary heron squawk.
Enemi.es: Evidently the reddish egrets of the Florida coast were exterminated by plume hunters. Their nuptial plumes are long and showy and those of the white phase must have been in good demand. The following statement by W. E. D. Scott (1887) is of interest in this connection:
We reached our destination: the island which Mr. Wilkerson had told me was the breeding place of reddish egrets: at about 4 o’clock, and at once came to anchor. A few herons were to be seen from time to time flying to the island, and presently I took the small boat and went ashore to reconnoiter. This had evidently been only a short time before a large rookery. The trees were full of nests, some of which stlll contained eggs, and hundreds of broken eggs strewed the ground everywhere. Fish crows and both kinds of buzzards were present in great numbers and were rapidly destroying the remaining eggs. I found a huge pile of dead, half decayed birds, lying on the ground which had apparently been killed for a day or two. All of them had the “plumes” taken off with a patch of the skin from the back, and some had the wings cut of!; otherwise they were uninjured. I counted over 200 birds treated in this way. The most common species was the reddish egret, though there were about as many Louisiana herons; the other species were the snowy heron, great white egret, and the little blue heron in both phases of plumage.
In the Texas rookeries considerable damage is done by black vultures, which devour large numbers of eggs and young birds. We found one or more pairs of these black rascals living in or near almost every rookery that we visited. The wardens are well aware of the damage that these birds do and they kill them or break up their nests whenever they can. Prowling coyotes and wild cats kill a great many young birds that fall to the ground, but many of these would die anyway, as their parents do not seem to know how to care for them under such circumstances.
But the worst enemy of all the small herons in Texas is the omnipresent great-tailed grackle. These birds live in multitudes in nearly all of the rookeries and work great havoc among the ungtxarded eggs. Most of the eggs destroyed are in the incomplete sets, before incubation has begun, as they are less closely guarded at that time. Mr. Calm (1923) says that “this destruction of the nest causes very little worry to the old birds; indeed I once watched a grackle break up an egret nest while the parent bird stood not 15 feet away, intently watching the performance and preening its feathers.” Captain Camp has lately been conducting a systematic campaign against the grackles on Green Island which has greatly reduced their numbers and lessened the destruction of eggs.
Range: Florida and the Gulf coast of the United States; also the West Indies and Mexico.
Breeding range: North to Lower California (San Jose Island); Sinaloa (Mazatlan); Texas (Cameron, Nueces, Calhoun, and Refugio Counties); Louisiana (Timbalier Island); formerly Florida (Suwannee River, Orange Lake and Pelican Island); and formerly Georgia (Chatham County). East formerly to Florida (Pelican Island and Dade County); the Bahama Islands (Great Bahama, Abaco, Nassau, Great Inagua, and probably the Caicos Islands); probably Santo Domingo; Cuba (Manzanillo); and probably Haiti. South probably to Haiti; Cuba (Manzanillo); Yucatan (probaby Cozumel Island); and Tepic (San Bias). West to Tepic (San Bias); Sinaloa (Mazatlan); and Lower California (San Jose Island).
The principal colonies now known are located on the islands off the coast of Texas.
Winter rangc: The reddish egret is largely nonmigratory, except in the central northern part of its range. It has been found at this season north to Lower California (La Paz and San Jose del Cabo); Sinaloa (Mazatlan); and Florida (Fort Myers, Pinellas County, and Cape Florida).
Migration: Early dates of arrival are: Corpus Christi, Texas, March 29, 1903; Orange Hammock, Florida, February 25, 1895; and Micanopy, Florida, March 20, 1909.
Returns from birds banded on the coast of Texas indicate a somewhat extensive southward migration from that region. A young bird (number 233333, Biological Survey), marked at Green Island, Cameron County on May 15, 1923, was killed about October 20, 1923, at Cuicatlan, Oaxaca, Mexico, about 600 miles south of the point of banding or at the southern extremity of th~ known range.
Casual records: Few cases of wandering are known, as this species does not appear to indulge in the extensive postnuptial movements that characterize Casmerodius and Egretta. The collection of C. E. Aiken, at Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado, is said to contain an immature specimen shot near that city about August, 1875; and during the period from August 17 to 31, 1875, it was reported as not rare in the vicinity of Cairo, Illinois.
Further evidence of late summer movements is afforded by the record of another bird (number 233347, Biological Survey), banded as a nestling in Cameron County, Texas, on May 15, 1923, and found dead near Galveston, Texas, on August 10, 1923.
Egg dates: Texas: 45 records, April 6 to June 14; 23 records, May 16 to 27. Florida: 16 records, December 8 to May 16; 8 records, April 5 to May 9.