The Tricolored Heron is a small, slender heron normally found along the coastlines in
the southeastern United States. The term "tricolored" refers to
the dark bluish upperparts, the white underparts, and the reddish brown stripes
found on its upper neck. Tricolored Herons are normally found near salt
water, especially during the breeding season, but occasionally are found inland
(rarely in South Dakota). It was formerly called the Louisiana Heron.
Habitat: Generally found near
salt water during breeding season, with small populations found on scattered
inland lakes, reservoirs, rivers, marshes, and sloughs.
Diet: Mostly fish.
Also crustaceans, frogs and tadpoles, salamanders, lizards, and large insects.
Behavior: A solitary feeder, sometimes
aggressively defending a small foraging territory from other herons and
egrets. Forages by standing or wading in shallow water in pursuit of
Nesting: Despite their rarity in the state, a handful of breeding records
have occurred in the eastern part of South
Dakota. Tricolored Herons are colonial nesters, with colonies often
consisting of multiple species of wading birds. The nest is a large
platform of sticks, lined with leaves, grasses, and other vegetative material.
The female usually lays 3 or 4 eggs, and both parents help to incubate them.
When the eggs hatch, both parents help to feed the young. The young fledge
at about 5 weeks.
Song: Short grunts and
groans by breeding males.
Migration: Permanent resident along Gulf Coast, parts of the East Coast. Some move
south in the fall, as far as Central America.
Conservation Status: The species has been increasing
range northward, despite some scattered local declines. They are found
over a wide geographic area and are common in parts of their range.
The IUCN lists the
Tricolored Heron as a species of "Least Concern".
eNature.com: -- Tricolored Heron
Whatbird.com -- Tricolored Heron
Photo Information: December 10th, 2012 - Big
Cypress National Reserve, Florida
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Tricolored Heron photos.