The Assateague
Naturalist

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Tricolored Heron Picture 1

Tricolored Heron Picture 2

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)

The tricolored heron is also known as the "Louisiana heron," and while it is one of the most common herons along the Gulf Coast (the hat makers were, fortunately, never very interested in its feathers), it is also found along most of the East Coast.

The white stripe running down the front of the neck is a characteristic marking of the tricolor. The bill has often a dark coloring toward the tip. When challenging a rival, the tricolor's neck feathers become so ruffled that they have been compared to a feather boa. These herons grow to about thirty inches in height.

This heron spends the winter from Virginia southward to South America. The females breed once a year and have been known to lay up to seven blue-green eggs in their nests of twigs and plants. The nests are built in trees, high bushes, and sometimes among reeds. The eggs hatch in a little over three weeks.

Tricolor herons dine on fish, insects, and frogs. Sometimes when they sense danger nearby in the reeds or high grasses, they may conceal themselves by standing erect with their bills pointed toward the sky (rather than flying off right away), hoping perhaps, to blend in better with their surroundings.

The photos were taken on the refuge at the edge of Toms Cove near the main road (map). Summer and fall are the best seasons for spotting tricolor herons on Assateague.

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