Tri-colored Herons: a Welcome Wader

Photo by Jo-Ann Cittadino

Article by Sylvia Van Boskirk, Rookery Intern

Tricolored Herons are one of the more abundant and colorful residents of our Native Swamp and Rookery. Their nests tend to be about 13 feet off the ground, which is perfectly at eye level in the Swamp. This makes them a perfect subject for both photographers and birders to spot!

Photo by Robert O’Toole

Tricolored Herons arrive in the swamp in the last days of March and lay their eggs at the beginning of April. The nesting period lasts about 6 weeks in all, incubating for the first 3 weeks and taking care of nestlings for the last 3. The eggs are a really pretty green-blue color. Their chicks are adorably ugly when they hatch and require constant attention from their parents. The male and female are monogamous throughout the nesting season and share the duty of taking care of their young. By June, most of the chicks have fledged and can be seen wandering around the Swamp as they learn how to forage and avoid being eaten by alligators!

Photo by Gen Anderson

Last year was a record year for the Tricolored Herons in our rookery. There were 109 nests and 197 chicks. More Tricolored Heron chicks were observed than any other species at their peak! Over the past decade, their numbers in all categories have been rising, even though the number of adults fluctuates every few years.

These birds will always be a favorite for photographers, birders, and all guests who come to see them. Our rookery will continue to be a safe haven for them in the future, and we’re always glad to see them flocking here every spring.

Photo by William Campanellie

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