Western Reef-Heron

Egretta gularis




Bitterns, Herons and Egrets (Ardeidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Pale green to blue-white.

Number of Eggs:

2 - 5

Incubation Days:

20 - 25

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

In a tree, under a shrub, on the ground, or on a rock ledge.

Nest Material:

Sticks and branches.





Western Reef-Heron: This Old World species is exclusively coastal. There is a dark and light morph. Dark morph is slate gray overall with white chin and throat. Legs are black with yellow feet. The light morph is white overall with two long narrow plumes on the back of the crown. Sexes are similar. Bill, legs, and feet are brown-olive.

Range and Habitat

Western Reef-Heron: Found mainly along the coasts of tropical western Africa, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and east to India. The first record in North America was in Massachusetts in 1983. Since then it has been recorded in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York.

Breeding and Nesting

Western Reef-Heron: Two to five pale green to blue-white eggs are laid on an untidy platform of sticks built by both sexes, located in a tree, on a rock ledge, under shrubs, or on the ground. Eggs are incubated for 20-25 days by both sexes. Semialtricial young stay in nest about 30 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Western Reef-Heron: Stalks in a crouched position on shallow reefs and mudflats. Diet includes fish, frogs, mollusks, crustaceans, and mice. Does not spear food, but grasps with mandibles and swallows whole.


Western Reef-Heron: Generally silent, when disturbed gives a guttural "kawww."

Similar Species

Western Reef-Heron: Rare vagrant. Little Blue Heron is slate blue overall, head and neck are dark purple, bill is gray with a black tip, legs and feet are dull yellow-green.

The area of the face just below the bill.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
Large, conspicuous, showy feathers.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X