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Tricolored Heron, Egretta tricolor

Tricolored Heron, Egretta tricolor. Photo Credit: Scott Somershoe
Tricolored Heron, Egretta tricolor. Photo Credit: Scott Somershoe

This attractive heron is a regular but very rare visitor to Tennessee in the spring, summer, and fall. The Tricolored Heron was formerly known as the Louisiana Heron, though its range extends along the Atlantic coast from New Jersey southward to Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America. It spends the winters over most of this range.

Description: This medium-sized heron has a long, slender neck and bill, a dark grayish-blue back, a grayish-blue neck with a narrow white line in front, and a white belly. Males and females look the same.

Length: 26"

Wingspan: 36"

Weight: 13 oz.

Similar Species:

  • Adult Little Blue Herons are overall grayish blue, and lack a white belly.
  • Great Blue Herons are much larger, have a paler neck and lack the white belly.

Habitat: In Tennessee, found along lakes, rivers, and ponds.

Diet: Mostly fish.

Nesting and reproduction: There are no known nesting records for this species in Tennessee.

Status in Tennessee: Extremely rare visitor in spring, summer or fall, across Tennessee. In April 2009, one was found at the Gallatin Steam Plant, Sumner County.

Dynamic map of Tricolored Heron eBird observations in Tennessee

Fun Facts:

  • The oldest recorded Tricolored Heron was 17 years, 8 months old.

Obsolete English Names: Louisiana heron

Best places to see in Tennessee: Extremely rare visitor to lakes, rivers, and ponds across the state.

Tricolored Heron, Egretta tricolor. Range Map
Tricolored Heron, Egretta tricolor. Range Map

Sources:

Frederick, P. C. 1997. Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor). In The Birds of North America, No. 306 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Robinson J. C. 1990. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Tennessee. Univ. Tennessee Press, Knoxville.

Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. A. A. Knopf, New York, NY.