Distribution & Migration


The Reddish Egret is the rarest and least known of the egrets and herons of North America. The species occurs within a narrow latitudinal range extending east from the Baja California peninsula, including the Gulf of California, the Yucatan Peninsula, the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico to peninsular Florida and islands in the Caribbean basin, namely Bahamas and Cuba. The global population is estimated to be 7,000-9,000 individuals, with 3,500 to 4,250 breeding pairs. The Reddish Egret represents an international resource, with Mexico and the U.S. supporting equally the bulk of the global breeding population, complemented by a number of Central American and Caribbean nations. Despite its broad range, the Reddish Egret occupies a restricted belt of coastal habitat, is patchily distributed and has a relatively small and declining global population. Accordingly there is broad international consensus that the Reddish Egret is in need of active conservation attention.


Nature of Migration

Essentially resident, only “weakly” migratory, particularly among northern portions of breeding range in U.S. (Cooke 1913). Postbreeding dispersal occurs in late spring or summer and involves mostly immatures, with individuals now reported annually as far north as North Carolina on Atlantic Coast and southern California on Pacific, and few vagrants even farther north to inland sites (see Appendix). Direct recoveries of birds banded in Texas indicate strong southward movement in Sep–Nov, with individuals occurring as far south as El Salvador and Guatemala. Movements of birds in West Indies poorly known, although Robertson (1978) suggested that white-morph birds occurring as far north as Florida Panhandle in summer might be from Cuban colonies. Nonbreeders summer in portions of winter range.


Lowther, Peter E. and Richard T. Paul. 2002. Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/633