The Reddish Egret, a conspicuously long-legged and long-necked wading bird of coastal regions, is more tied to salt water than other of our other Herons or Egrets. It is known for its erratic dancing when it forages and is a species of special concern. There are only 3,500 pairs of reddish egrets worldwide, with nearly 10 percent of that population in Florida, where it can reside year-round. This egret is also a year-round resident along the eastern coast of Texas, where the majority of the breeding for the Reddish Egret takes place.

The Reddish Egret population was decimated in the late 1800’s by plume hunters but has steadily risen in numbers since the 1930’s. There is a White Morph of the Reddish Egret that is seldom seen and was thought to be much more common prior to hunting by the plume traders.

In 2015, our local J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge raised funds through it’s third annual “Trailgate Party” held by the refuge friends group and from the $85,000 raised for conservation support on the refuge, $20,400 was set aside for satellite transmitters to track three reddish egrets for three years. As you can see in the photo, this is one of those three birds and was photographed in early 2018 along the Sanibel Causeway. NOAA considers the reddish egret an indicator of the health of south Florida’s coastal marine system and according to Kenneth Meyer, who is leading a study in the Florida Keys, the reddish egret is the rarest and least studied wading bird in the United States.

Hopefully you’ll catch a view of one here on the islands this season, maybe even with an antenna.