Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)


French: Aigrette tricolore German: Dreifarbenreiher Spanish: Garceta tricolor
Other common names: Louisiana Heron

Ardea tricolor

Statius Müller

, 1776,



Sometimes placed in genus Hydranassa. Race rufimentum synonymized with nominate tricolor by some authors, but probably merits recognition. W Mexico population often separated as race occidentalis, but generally considered indistinguishable from ruficollis. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. t. ruficollis Gosse, 1847 – coasts of E & S USA (S from Maine) and both coasts of Mexico S to Central America, West Indies, N Colombia and NW Venezuela, and from W Colombia S along coast to Ecuador and Peru (locally S to Arequipa).
  • E. t. tricolor (Statius Müller, 1776) – NE Venezuela (Monagas) to NE Brazil (N Piauí).
  • E. t. rufimentum (Hellmayr, 1906) – Trinidad (possibly also Tobago).
  • Descriptive notes

    50–76 cm; c. 100–550 g; wingspan c. 90 cm. Sexes alike, but male larger than female and latter has less intensely coloured breeding plumage. Head and neck slate-... read more


    Utters “aah” in aggression and in displays, a short guttural “aahrr” in alarm, a “uunh” during Snap... read more


    Generally occurs in coastal areas, rare inland; normally along shallow saltwater shores,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly small fish (9–50 mm long, e.g. Fundulus spp., Lepomis spp., Enneacanthus spp., Micropterus... read more


    Season Mar–Jun in E USA and Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), Apr–Jun in Baja California and mainland NW Mexico, Apr–... read more


    North American populations generally migratory, wintering in S USA (from Florida) to N South... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). In USA: common on Gulf and E coasts, where is commonest heron and overall population estimated at > 200,000 birds in 1970s (but... read more

    Recommended citation

    Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor). 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 5 April 2020).