Birds of Ocracoke Series

Birds of Ocracoke: The Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron. Photo by P. Vankevich

Tricolored Heron. Photo by P. Vankevich

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Egretta tricolor

By Peter Vankevich

Appearance: Blue-grey upper parts and a white line along the neck. It can be distinguished from the Little Blue Heron by its white belly. Note the long plumes on the head and neck during breeding season. Its preferred diet is small fish, but will eat amphibians and large insects.

When to See: Year-round, less common in winter

Where to See: Along the creeks, South Point Rd., Springer’s Point, near Hatteras ferry terminal

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Birds of the Outer Banks checklist

Notes:

Formerly known as the Louisiana Heron, name change occurred in 1984.  Between the 1940s and 1970s, its breeding range expanded northward along the East Coast of North America.  The first nesting record in Virginia was 1941. Connecticut and Massachusetts had first nesting records for in 1976, though it is only an occasional breeder that far north. Breeds mostly in coastal habitats, including estuaries, salt marshes, mangrove swamps, river deltas, lagoons, and salinas, but also in freshwater areas

Tricolored Heron on cedar tree. Photo by P. Vankevich

Tricolored Heron on cedar tree in winter on Ocracoke. Double-crested Cormorants flying in background. Photo by P. Vankevich