Saturday, December 13, 2014

Reddish Egret Foraging Behavior

Reddish Egret Foraging at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Huntington Beach, CA

Reddish Egret is a bird species I enjoy seeing when I visit family in Orange County, California. I saw my very first one in March of 2011. I've been fortunate enough to see them at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve each time I've visited the area since. My recent visit over Thanksgiving weekend allowed me to see multiple Reddish Egrets. Not one of them seemed to have an "off" button. Each appeared to be in some sort of hyper drive as they ran through the shallow water, spun themselves around erratically, flashed their wings, and snatched up tiny fish.

I decided to capture their behavior on video this time. While they are fine birds to observe in a photo, the photo just doesn't do justice to their foraging behavior. The video below is just under two minutes long and captures their typical hunting behaviors including one I hadn't noticed before. The bird paused to study one area of the water and then used its foot beneath the water to rustle up some fish that may have been hiding or somewhat obscured from its sight. Be sure to change the settings to High Definition if your video player doesn't default to HD.

If all the fish are as small as the one caught below it makes sense that these egrets appear to be in a feeding frenzy nearly every time I've observed them. That is more like an appetizer, not even a snack.

Reddish Egret Foraging at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Huntington Beach, CA
Reddish Egrets are considered wading birds and are about about 30 inches long with a wing span of about 4 feet. They typically forage in shallow salt water and nest and roost with a variety of other wading birds. They breed along the coasts of Mexico and the southern coast line of the US, from Texas over to Florida. There is a white morph of the Reddish Egret, but they are not very common and are typically seen along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. From what I understand, the ones along the Pacific coast are all dark morphs, such as the one I've shared in this post.

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