All Herons In Massachusetts (ID, Photos, Calls, When To Spot)

In Massachusetts, 11 of the 17 species of herons that regularly visit North America have been found. There are four more that are uncommon or unintentional. This guide will teach you about and identify these long-legged birds.

Herons, which can be found in saltwater, freshwater, or even peering into your backyard pond for a quick snack, are water-loving birds.

Nonetheless, since they are protected, a net is the most effective strategy if you are having trouble feeding many of your fish herons.

Herons are often found nesting in large colonies known as heronries, although they prefer to hunt alone by remaining motionless and waiting or by dashing about.

A collection of herons is known as a “rookery,” and there are several other names for such a collection, including “battery,” “hedge,” and even the term “siege.”

You should learn more about the ducks, swans, and pelicans you may see in Massachusetts if you enjoy seeing waterbirds.

15 Species Of Heron In Massachusetts

1. Great Blue Heron

During the breeding season, which lasts from April to November, Great Blue Herons are extremely common in Massachusetts. Nevertheless, some may be seen all year in eastern Massachusetts.

They were found on 18% of summer and 5% of winter checklists submitted by birdwatchers for the state.

The Great Blue Heron is North America’s biggest heron, and it is a big bird.

From the front of their eyes to the rear of their heads, they have a white face with a black crest or plume. Yellow-orangish is the color of their bills.

They have grayish-blue bodies and long grey legs with a long gray neck with black and white streaking in the front.

  • Ardea herodias
  • Length: 46 – 52 in (117 – 132 cm)
  • Weight: 128 oz (3628 g)
  • Wingspan: 77 – 82 in (196 – 208 cm)

Most US states have Great Blue Herons that stay throughout the year, although those who breed in the Mid-West and Canada migrate south.

In Florida, the Great White Heron is a white morph subspecies of the Great Blue Heron.

Great Blue Herons may be found in a variety of wetland habitats. Fresh and saltwater marshes, mangrove swamps, flooded marshes, lake edges, and shorelines are all possible habitats for them.

Fish, frogs, salamanders, shrimps, crabs, dragonflies, grasshoppers, and other aquatic insects are the mainstays of Great Blue Heron diets.

Wading or standing in water allows them to capture their prey. They may also hang above water, dive into it, jump feet first from perches, or float on top of it.

Heron colonies, situated high in trees near to water, are home to Great Blue Heron nests. Twigs and sticks are used to construct the nests, which are then lined with softer material.

Because Great Blue Herons reuse their nests, they may grow them in size over time by repairing and adding to them.

After that, the female lays two to seven eggs. For about four weeks, both parents care for the eggs.

Fun Fact: With their heads thrown back, Great Blue Herons keep their eating area safe with spectacular wing-outstretched performances.

2. Great Egret

During the breeding season, from mid-March to November, Great Egrets may be found in Massachusetts. In summer checklists, they appear in 9% of the time.

When males have neon green facial skin and long, wispy feathers (aigrettes) extending from their backs to their tails, Great Egrets are at their best during the breeding season.

They’re frequently referred to as Great White Herons because they’re enormous, all-white herons. Egrets are also known as common egrets. These huge birds have dagger-like beaks, black legs, and feet, and are white in color.

Males, females, and immature birds are all indistinguishable.

  • Ardea alba
  • Length: 37 – 41 in (94 – 104cm)
  • Weight: 59.96 oz (1699 g)
  • Wingspan: 54 – 55 in (137 – 140 cm)

The world range of Great Egrets is enormous. Those in the southern and coastal United States stay throughout the year, but those farther inland and in Canada go south.

Great Egrets may be found in both freshwater and saltwater marshes, as well as fish ponds.

Fish, frogs, small mammals, crustaceans, and insects make up the majority of Great Egret’s diet. On the water, you’ll notice Great Egrets standing motionless, waiting for their prey to appear and then striking and skewering it with their long bills.

Great Egrets build nests in colonies, which may be seen. To keep their nests safe from predators like raccoons, they are often placed high up in trees, preferably on islands.

Sticks, twigs, and marsh plant stems are used to create them. Females lay up to six eggs, and both parents care for the eggs for around twenty-five days.

Fun Fact: Because of their long white feathers (aigrettes), the Great Egret was almost hunted to extinction.

3. Snowy Egret

During the breeding season, snowy egrets are found in Massachusetts, where they account for 7% of summer checklists. From April through October, they’re most often seen along the coast.

Little, all-white herons called Snowy Egrets, as the name suggests. Their irises are yellow, and their skin is around the eye is long, black bills. They have long, black legs and bright yellow feet.

Long, lacy feathers grow on their heads, necks, and backs during the breeding season. During courtship, their lores and cheeks turn reddish-pink, and their toes turn orange-red.

Surprisingly, during aggressive encounters, these parts of their bodies become bright red.

Adults have head plumes, but juveniles do not. The lores and legs of these birds are also greener, and the colors on their bills and legs are lighter.

  • Egretta thula
  • Length: 22 – 27 in (56 -69 cm)
  • Weight: 16.75 oz (475 g)
  • Wingspan: 39.4 in (100 cm)

Except for the Gulf Coast and the southwest coast, snowy egrets migrate from most US states. Throughout Central and South America, they stay throughout the year.

Snowy Egrets may be found in marshes, riverbanks, lakesides, pools, salt marshes, and estuaries throughout shallow wetlands. They prefer marshland woodlands with trees and shrubs for nesting.

Fish, crustaceans, snails, frogs, and crayfish are among the foods hunted by snowy egrets in shallow water. They may sit still and wait for prey to approach them, or they may stir up the water to bring their prey to the top so that it is more accessible for them.

Snowy Egret males select nests. They pick a spot and go on display to attract their suitors. Males continue to provide sticks, sedges, or reeds to the females while they build the nest when they are together.

Nests are generally found high in the canopy or hidden among the bushes. Both parents incubate their eggs after the female lays two to six eggs. The incubation period is normally twenty-four days.

Fun Fact: Snowy egrets were practically driven to extinction because of their exquisite white head feathers, which were ideal for ladies’ hats.

4. Green Heron

In April, Green Herons arrive in Massachusetts, and by October, they are on their way south. They are seen in 5% of summer checklists and spend the breeding season here.

The glossy green-black coloring of the crowns, crests, backs, and wings of green herons makes them stand out against a backdrop of hunching and dark; however, you must get up close to see this.

During the breeding season, their bills turn black, with two-toned dark on top and yellow on bottom. Their irises and legs likewise change color from yellow to orange.

Chestnut or maroon with black heads, necks, and breasts. The top portion of their neck is striped with a white stripe that runs down the length. Gray is the color of their bellies.

Browner with black caps and a higher crested skull, juveniles are bulkier.

  • Butorides virescens
  • Length: 18 – 22 in (46 – 56 cm)
  • Weight: 9.17 oz (260 g)
  • Wingspan: 25 – 26 in (64 – 66 cm)

Before migrating south, Green Herons breed mostly in the eastern US and Pacific Coast. Those on the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean, and Mexico, on the other hand, stay all year.

Green Herons may be found in bogs, marshes, lakes, ponds, and other dense vegetation environments. They may stay in dry woods or orchards if there are water sources nearby, but they prefer coastal and inland wetlands.

Little fish, insects, spiders, crustaceans, snails, amphibians, reptiles, and rodents make up Green Herons’ diet. Rather of wading, they usually hunt from shore by perched on sticks over the water.

Green Heron nests are constructed of long, slender twigs suspended in the trees above water, but they may also be left behind beneath shrubs.

Females deposit up to six eggs over two days, one every day. Both parents begin incubating after the last egg is deposited, which takes around twenty days. When the eggs are hatched, both parents feed their young.

Fun Facts:  Bait, such as bread, feathers, twigs, and leaves, is used by green herons for foraging. This is one of the few bird species that do so (Davis and Kushlan, 1994).

5. Black-crowned Night-Heron

During the breeding season, from April to mid-November, black-crowned night-herons can be found along Massachusetts’ coast. Summer checklists include 3% of them.

The typical description of the heron family does not apply to Black-crowned Night-Herons, or simply Night Herons. It has a shorter beak, neck, and legs than other storks.

Black headgear extends from a white line above the black beaks of adult Black-crowned Night-herons.

The lores (in front of the eye, towards the beak) are green-blue, and their eyes are red. On the bottom, they’re white, but on the back, they’re black. Yellow is the color of their legs and feet.

The black head and back become glossy blue-green during the breeding season, with two or three white feathers appearing on the crown. The legs and feet become red or pink, while the lores turn black.

The juveniles have some streaking and spotting on their grayish-brown body.

  • Nycticorax nycticorax
  • Length: 25 – 28 in (64 – 71 cm)
  • Weight: 38.8 oz (1100 g)
  • Wingspan: 44 – 45 in (112 – 114 cm)

The global range of Black-crowned Night-herons is enormous. Before moving south, they breed in the United States and Canada. Along the coasts, some may be seen all year.

Wetland habitats such as shallow freshwater or brackish rivers are home to Black-crowned Night-herons. Artificial habitats like reservoirs, canals, and fish ponds are also used to house these animals.

Night-feeders such as black-crowned nightherons consume crayfish, fish, and even turtles or worms if they can find them.

In preparation for selecting their mates, Black-crowned Night-heron males create nests in bushes or trees, which are started by the males.

After that, the female will lay seven eggs over a two-day period. For roughly twenty-four days after the eggs are deposited, both parents begin to incubate them. For around three weeks, the parents will look after their child.

Fun Fact: For more than a century, the National Zoo in Washington, DC has hosted a colony of Black-crowned Night-herons.

6. American Bittern

Throughout the summer or during migration, American Bitterns are frequently seen in Massachusetts.

In the spring of the American Bittern, you may hear their unusual watery boom cries before you see them if you’re lucky. Down below you can check them out.

The Heron family includes American Bitterns, which are chunky, medium-sized birds.

Because of their brown striped and mottled patterning, as well as their capacity to stay motionless amid the reeds with their head tilted up, they appear like the reeds they hide in.

They have short legs and yellow eyes that change to orange during courtship.

  • Botaurus lentiginosus
  • Length: 23 in (58 cm)
  • Weight: 25.6 oz (726 g)
  • Wingspan: 42 – 50 in (107 – 127 cm)

Before heading to the Gulf Coast and Mexico, American Bitterns breed in Canada and northern US states.

Shallow, freshwater marshes and wetlands with tall reeds are home to American Bitterns almost exclusively.

To discover them, focus your eyes on the margins of lakes and ponds amid the rough vegetation.

Fish, crustaceans, insects, amphibians, and small mammals make up the diet of American Bitterns. They wait quietly and still in the reeds, waiting for their victim to approach before darting out quickly to capture them in their bills.

The water may be home to American Bittern nests, which are hidden among coarse vegetation. Females pick a nest site and construct it using available reeds, sedges, cattails, or other plants.

They incubate seven eggs for around twenty-six days before laying them up. The females feed the chicks directly into their beaks when they are born. They leave the nest after two weeks and are fully developed at six to seven weeks.

They have up to seven eggs, which take around twenty-six days to hatch. Females feed the chicks straight into their beaks when they are born. They fled the nest after two weeks, and it takes six to seven weeks for them to be completely independent.

Fun Fact: Like the reed grass that hides them to disguise themselves, American Bitterns flutter upwards and sway gently from side to side.

7. Little Blue Heron

From April to May and Mid-July to September, Little Blue Herons may be seen along the Massachusetts coast, accounting for up to 1% of checklists.

Little Blue Herons are not really that little when they’re adult. They have lengthy, stretched bodies that range in size from medium to large. With dangling feathers across the nape, their heads and necks have a purple coloration.

During the breeding season, their eyes become gray-green, which are pale yellow. Two-toned – light blue or grayish with black tips on their long, dagger-like bills. Slate-blue is the color of their skin. They have long, black to green legs.

During the first year of their lives, juvenile Little Blue Herons are completely white before turning dark gray, blue, and white.

  • Egretta caerulea
  • Length: 24 – 29 in (61 – 74 cm)
  • Weight: 16.22 oz (460 g)
  • Wingspan: 40 – 41 in (102 – 104 cm)

Before migrating south, Little Blue Herons breed in eastern US states, but those that breed along the Gulf Coast and Mexico stay throughout the year.

Watery areas, such as bogs, marshes, ponds, streams, lagoons, tidal flats, canals, ditches, fish hatcheries, and flooded fields are all home to Little Blue Herons.

In comparison to other herons, Little Blue Herons forage in a more elegant manner. They simply stand and wait in shallow waters for their prey, rather than dashing about across the water.

Fish, frogs, snakes, turtles, spiders, crustaceans, mice, and insects make up the diet of Little Blue Herons. Adults prefer to go off by themselves, while juveniles favor to stay in mixed groups.

Little Blue Heron nests are constructed of sticks and, like other heron species, are usually found in colonies. Up to six eggs are laid by the female. For up to twenty-four days, both parents share in the incubation process.

Fun Fact: Juvenile Little Blue Herons are able to capture additional fish and have additional protection from predators because of their white coloring, which makes them stand out among Snowy Egrets.

8. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

During the breeding season in Massachusetts, yellow-crowned night-herons are most commonly seen along the coast.

Yellow crowns with two plumes extending from the heads of adult Yellow-crowned Night Herons. Their black bills contrast with their small size. Their remaining heads are black, with a little white patch on the edges beneath their eyes.

As they grow up, their eyes turn from yellow to orange to red.

Their wings have a scaled pattern and their bodies are gray-blue. During the breeding season, their legs become coral, pink, or red and are long and yellow.

Grayish-brown with white streaks and spots, juveniles begin life. It takes three years for them to grow up.

  • Nyctanassa violacea
  • Length: 22 – 28 in (56 – 71 cm)
  • Weight: 25.6 oz ( 726 g)
  • Wingspan: 42 0 44 in (107 – 112 cm)

Before moving south, yellow-crowned nightherons breed predominantly in the southern United States. Throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, and northern South America, they stay throughout the year.

In coastal areas with a lot of crustaceans, shallow waters, and robust edges on which to feed, you may see yellow-crowned night-herons at daybreak and dusk.

Crabs and crayfish make up the majority of Yellow-crowned Night-herons’ diets. Fish, insects, worms, mollusks, lizards, snakes, rodents, and birds are among the foods they consume. Little prey can be devoured in a flash by them.

Crabs are frequently dismembered or stabbed in the bodies.

Yellow-crowned Night-herons’ nests are often found in tiny, loose colonies, and they always construct nests near water. Both parents build nests out of soft sticks and twigs, which are created by combining grass, leaves, or moss.

After that, she deposits up to eight eggs, which they co-incubate for three weeks. The chicks are fed through regurgitation when they hatch. They fledge after approximately a month and are able to fly on their own around fifty days.

Fun Fact: The eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE) virus, which can kill horses and people, is carried by yellow-crowned night-herons.

9. Least Bittern

Throughout the summer of Massachusetts, Least Bitterns can be found from May to September.

The smallest herons in the Americas, least bitterns are difficult to locate amid the reeds, but you may hear them first.

Their bill is yellow, and they are brown and white in color with a black cap and top. They use their claws and long toes to grip the reeds.

Females and juveniles have lighter backs and crowns than males.

  • Ixobrychus exilis
  • Length: 11 – 14 in (28 – 36 cm)
  • Weight: 3 oz (85 g)
  • Wingspan: 16 – 18 in (41 – 46 cm)

The Little Bitterns prefer to roam across Europe, Africa, and North America, but they may also go into Canada on occasion.

Least Bitterns may be found in rich freshwater and brackish marshlands, where there are many tall cattails and reeds. When you spot them perched on reeds, look for them.

They’ll freeze up, raise their bills to the sky, and sway in sync with the reeds as soon as they sense danger.

Small fish, frogs, tadpoles, salamanders, slugs, dragonflies, aquatic bugs, and occasionally mice are part of the diet of Least Bitterns. They situate themselves on the reeds and perform acrobatic contortions to reach their target on the water’s surface.

The female of the Least Bittern creates well-concealed nests from cattails and marsh vegetation. Both parents incubate the eggs for around twenty days after she lays seven of them. They also regurgitate food to feed newly hatched chicks.

Fun Fact: Long necks characterize Least Bitterns, who normally remain in a bent posture.

10. Tricolored Heron

During the summer, Tricolored Herons can be seen along Massachusetts’ coast, although they are not particularly common.

The white belly and neck stripe of a Tricolored Heron distinguishes it from other herons.

Adults that are not breeding have a mix of blue-gray, purple, and white feathers. Their bills have a black tip and are yellowish or greyish in color. They have yellow or olive green legs and feet.

The back of the heads of breeding adults are likewise covered in thin, white feathers, and their bill becomes blue at the base. On their necks and backs, they have finer feathers. Their legs, too, become reddish in hue.

The neck, upper breasts, upper back, and wings of juveniles are much darker than those of adults.

  • Egretta tricolor
  • Length: 24 – 26 in (61 – 66 cm)
  • Weight: 14.6 oz (414 g)
  • Wingspan: 36 in (91 cm)

Throughout the Gulf Coast, Mexico, and northern South America, tricolored Herons may be seen all year. Those that breed farther north migrate south as they move along the Atlantic coast.

In freshwater and brackish marshes, estuaries, and coastal tidal pools or swamps, you may see Tricolored Herons.

Tricolored Herons are defensive of their feeding grounds and feed alone. Others wading birds that wish to eat little fish, frogs, crustaceans, and insects will be chased away by them. They will also chase away other wading birds who want to feed on their region.

Stalking, chasong, standing, and waiting to catch their victim are all expected behaviors. Before striking, they squat low in the water with their bellies touching the surface and their necks drawn in.

Tricolored Heron nests are formed of sticks and are located in trees and shrubs in colonies. The female lays three to five eggs, and the parents split the incubation process, which takes three weeks before the eggs hatch. They also share a responsibility for the baby.

11. Cattle Egret

Throughout the summer and during migration, Cattle Egrets can be seen in Massachusetts.

In Massachusetts, Cattle Egrets are fairly uncommon, although they may be seen throughout the summer and migration.

Cattle Egrets utilize a clever method of catching their prey…they stand on the backs of cattle and capture the startled prey when the livestock move and disturb the earth.

Cattle Egrets cleverly capture their prey by standing on the backs of cattle, allowing them to move and disturb the earth.

White bodies and faint orange-brown patches on their heads, necks, and backs distinguish Cattle Egrets, which are small, short-necked egrets.

Their eyes and skin are yellow, and they have yellow irises. They have slender yellow beaks and greenish-black legs. Males and females have the same appearance.

During the breeding season, cattle egrets change color and become more vibrant, particularly on their legs and beak.

Their light orange patches turn darker during the breeding season. At the height of their courting, their bills, legs, and irises turn bright red, and their facial skin (lores) becomes pinkish-red.

  • Bubulcus ibis
  • Length: 19 – 21 in (48 – 53 cm)
  • Weight: 17.98 oz (510 g)
  • Wingspan: 36 – 38 in (91 – 97 cm)

Cattle Egrets may be found all around the globe, but those in North America stay throughout the year and are found in Mexico, the Gulf Coast, and southwestern US states.

Nonetheless, after breeding, those who breed further north, mostly in the eastern United States, move south.

Cattle Egrets may be found in grasslands, pastures, agricultural fields, and rice fields near hoofed animals.

They do venture into the edges of aquatic environments, such as riverbanks, ponds, and shallow marshes, while preferring to stay on land and on top of cattle. Golf courses, lawns, sports fields, dumpsters, and parks are also common places for them to be seen.

Insects, particularly grasshoppers, crickets, flies, beetles, and moths, are the main food of Cattle Egrets. Spiders, frogs, small snakes, lizards, earthworms, and fish are also eaten by them.

Cattle Egret nests are typically constructed in woodlands near lakes or rivers, in marshes, and on small islands, and are made of sticks and reeds.

The female puts up to nine eggs, which take around twenty-five days to hatch. Young birds take roughly 45 days to fledge, become self-sufficient, and develop into adults.

Fun Fact: The Cattle Egret’s eyes have evolved to allow foraging on land by having binocular vision, rather than correcting for light refraction while feeding in water.

12. Little Egret

In Massachusetts, Little Egrets are an accidental species that are very uncommon. They were last sighted on Nantucket in 2014 and are solely known to live in southeastern Massachusetts.

The white-bodied Little Egret is found throughout the year. Long, thin necks, black beaks, yellow eyes, yellow lores (cheek skin), long black legs, and yellow toes characterize this species.

Little Egrets have thin feathers on the crowns of their heads, necks, and backs throughout the breeding season. At the height of courtship, their face skin becomes red, and their feet become pink or red.

The juveniles are more grayish/brownish, with greenish-black legs and duller yellow feet, than the adults.

  • Egretta garzetta
  • Length: 22 – 26 in (56 – 66 cm)
  • Weight: 17.6 oz (499 g)
  • Wingspan: 34 – 41 in (86 – 104 cm)

Little Egrets are casual visitors to the United States and Canada, with a typical range of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Little Egrets may be found hunting in watery places such as lakeshores, riverbanks, ponds, lagoons, marshes, and canals, as well as fish ponds.

Little Egrets either wait for fish to come or disturbance the water to frighten them out as their principal meal.

Little Egret nests are most frequently constructed of platform sticks and placed high in the trees or shrubs, in reed beds or mangroves. Males discover and transport the materials for construction, while females do the actual work.

The female lays six eggs, which the male and female jointly incubate for three weeks. For approximately two weeks, both parents are responsible for their infants. After six weeks, they fledge.

Fun Fact: The Little Egrets became extinct in Ireland and Great Britain as a result of their popularity for feathers for cosmetics at the time.

13. Western Reef-Heron

In Massachusetts, Western Reef-Herons are a rare species. They’re extremely uncommon in the state, and it’s been years since they’ve been seen.

With a long slender neck and beak, dark legs, and yellow feet, Western Reef Herons are thin-bodied birds. Their yellow feet turn orange or red, they have two long feathers on their nape, and their bills turn completely black during the breeding season.

Dark and White are the two color morphs of Western Reef Herons. The white have white bodies, and the Dark Morph has grayish-black bodies. They both have black legs with yellow feet and yellow eyes.

  • Egretta gularis
  • Length: 22 – 26 in (56 – 66 cm)
  • Weight: 14.1 oz (400 g)
  • Wingspan: 40 – 43 in (102 – 109 cm)

Herons from the Western Isle may be found in Africa, Asia, and southern Europe, but they may also visit America. Around coastal water, you may find them.

Fish, crustaceans, amphibians, mollusks, tiny reptiles, and birds are the major foods of Western Reef Herons. They might either stay seated and wait for the prey to approach them or wiggle the shallows with their feet to agitate it enough so that it rises to the top.

Western Reef Herons’ nests are shaped like platforms and built of sticks and branches. Females lay three to five eggs at a time, and the first egg is deposited as soon as possible. The eggs take twenty-four days to hatch, with both parents incubating them.

Fun Fact: In 1983, on Nantucket, Western Reef Herons were initially identified, but they have since been observed numerous times.

14. Gray Heron

In Massachusetts, Grey Herons are considered an accidental species, with records indicating that they have only been seen on Muskeget Island and Tuckernuck Island in 2020.

According to records, only since 2020 has the indiscriminate species Gray Heron been spotted on Muskeget and Tuckernuck Islands in Massachusetts.

Its neck is white with long feathers down its chest, and it has a white head and black neck. It has a long, pinkish-yellow bill. It has brown, long legs.

Females are generally smaller than males, although they look similar. The heads and crowns of juveniles are dull grey, while the rest of the body is dark grey.

Great Blue Herons are bigger and have brown flanks and thighs, whereas Gray Herons resemble them in appearance.

  • Ardea cinerea
  • Length: 33 – 40 in (84 – 102 cm)
  • Weight: 35.2 – 73.6 oz (997 – 2085 g)
  • Wingspan: 61 – 77 in (155 – 195 cm)

The typical habitat of the Gray Heron is Europe, Asia, and Africa, although they have been vagrants in North America more often.

Lakes, reservoirs, small and big rivers, marshes, ponds, flooded places, coastal lagoons, estuaries, and the seashore are all good places to look for Gray Herons.

Because of their enormous size and ability to capture prey in the water at high speeds, gray herons are regarded apex predators.

While they watch their prey, they can be incredibly motionless, and when they’re close enough to attack, they strike precisely and expertly with their long, robust bills.

In the land, bigger prey is stabbed and battered into submission.

Before being eaten whole, they sometimes drown or suffocate their prey or break their necks (sounds horrific!).

Gray Heron nests are commonly found near water and up in trees. Because they reuse their nests year after year, they gain in size as a result of the addition of more materials.

Females construct the nests, while males are in charge of locating the nesting material. After that, the females lay three to five eggs, which are incubated by the parents for around twenty-six days. Parents regurgitate fish for their eggs to eat when they hatch.

Fun Fact: Gray Herons flap with their heads pulled back and their long necks folded inward into an S-shape, making it simple to distinguish them in flight. Herons with their necks stretched out are flying.

15. Reddish Egret

In Massachusetts, Reddish Egrets are a near-threatened species that has not been seen in a long time.

This is one of the most spectacular birds to observe, with Reddish Egrets’ dark pink and grayish-blue hues and frantic racing in pursuit of fish.

Reddish Egrets come in dark and light morphs, with white morphs being uncommon. They are called Reddish Egrets, although they are actually black.

Blue-gray bodies with cinnamon-toned heads, necks, and breasts characterize dark morph Reddish Egrets. Pink with a black tip, their bills are pink.

The bodies of white morphs are totally white. They both have blue-black legs and feet, as well as straw yellow eyes with darker skin around (lores).

Adults will mate with either morph, and juveniles are also dark or white.

  • Egretta rufescens
  • Length: 27 – 32 in (69 – 81 cm)
  • Weight: 15.9 oz (451 g)
  • Wingspan: 46 in (117 cm)

From the Gulf Coast, through East Coast, and down to northern South America, Reddish Egrets may be found all year.

In open marine flats and beaches, you may see Reddish Egrets. Marshes, shallow bays, and lagoons are all home to them.

Reddish Egrets eat mostly by themselves. They’re hoping to catch fish by running across shallow, flooded flats. They immediately stab fish with their beaks after they succeed in frightening them up.

Reddish Egret nests are often found in colonies, with both parents contributing to the platform of sticks. They’re typically found on islands with nearby fishing banks.

The female lays seven eggs, which are taken care of by both parents for twenty-five days. They will feed their offspring for up to nine weeks, even after they have fled the nest.

Fun Fact: The male will perform a head toss display and beak snapping during mating, puffing out his feathers on his head, neck, and back.

How Frequently Herons Are Spotted In Massachusetts In Summer And Winter

Using checklists, you may identify which birds are commonly seen in your region. In Massachusetts, summer and winter checklists on ebird frequently record which herons are most common.

Herons in Massachusetts in summer:

Great Blue Heron 18.0%

Great Egret 9.9%

Snowy Egret 7.0%

Green Heron 5.0%

Black-crowned Night-Heron 3.0%

Least Bittern 0.6%

American Bittern 0.5%

Little Blue Heron 0.4%

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 0.2%

Tricolored Heron 0.2%

Cattle Egret 0.1%

Little Egret <0.1%

Western Reef-Heron <0.1%

Reddish Egret <0.1%

Herons in Massachusetts in winter:

Great Blue Heron 5.2%

Great Egret 0.1%

Black-crowned Night-Heron 0.1%

American Bittern 0.1%

Little Egret <0.1%

Little Blue Heron <0.1%

Snowy Egret <0.1%

Green Heron <0.1%

Cattle Egret <0.1%

Least Bittern <0.1%

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron <0.1%

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