Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Pacific Reef-egret (Egretta sacra)


French: Aigrette sacrée German: Riffreiher Spanish: Garceta de arrecife
Other common names: Pacific Reef-heron, Eastern Reef-egret, Eastern Reef-heron

Ardea sacra

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,



Sometimes placed in genus Demigretta. Proposed race micronesiae (Pacific islands) included with nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. s. sacra (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – coastal SE Asia E to Japan, and E through Greater and Lesser Sundas to Philippines, New Guinea, islands of SW & S Pacific (as far as French Polynesia), and coasts of Australia and New Zealand.
  • E. s. albolineata (G. R. Gray, 1859) – New Caledonia and Loyalty Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    58–66 cm; 330–700 g; wingspan 90–100 cm. Polymorphic, with white and dark grey morphs; former has pure, all-white plumage, albeit sometimes with a few dark... read more


    Vocalizations not well described and frequently silent, but gives an “ork” or deep “gruk” while... read more


    Typically coastal, especially rocky shores, coral reefs and offshore islands; also estuaries,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly small crabs and fish (e.g. mudskippers, gobies, blennies and damselfishes) up to 15 cm long; less often molluscs, insects, lizards;... read more


    In India, May–Jul, Sept; in Malaysia May, Jun and Nov; in W Java, Sept–Apr; in New Zealand, Sept–Dec, in New Caledonia,... read more


    Sedentary, with some post-breeding dispersal: chick ringed at Pulau Dua (W Java) recovered 40 km... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Relatively common, abundant in many islands of SW Pacific, with no evidence for recent changes in abundance, e.g., on Tahiti (French... read more

    Recommended citation

    Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Pacific Reef-egret (Egretta sacra). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 29 February 2020).